When Rajesh Talwar was released from Jail after being wrongfully confined for 50 days after being accused of murdering his daughter, Arushi, it was surprising to see so many media people thrusting their mikes and trying to ask questions when the situation warranted otherwise. It reminded of an incident some years back when actor Govinda’s son was injured badly in an accident and some media person was trying to ask him how he was feeling when he was resting in his bed and not in a position to speak.
In an interview a month back, Mr Rajesh Talwar had stated in Hindi he might as well be hanged now that his bitiya( or guidya affectionately) is no more. Having been arrested almost immediately after her death and having had no time to mourn the loss of his daughter, it is hardly a matter of conjecture where his time should have gone after release- media or gudiya. How could the media justify its presence there? They could have waited for Mr Talwar to fully recover and no sensible person in the viewing public would have been interested in knowing Mr Talwar’s views on his jail stint at such a sensitive time.
The media clearly went overboard this time. In the NDTV program “We, the people”, prominent journalist Barkha Dutt probes the issue. Some main points from the program were:-
1. The media has to set its own Lakshman rekhas. Some time ago, in his Sunday column, Vir Sanghvi also spoke of self regulation. This is very true because if the govt has to intervene and regulate, it can severely curb the freedom of the press. One person in the audience said that in foreign countries, yellow cards were placed by the police at certain points beyond which the media could not go. If the media continues to behave the way it did with the Talwars, every citizen will also need to carry a yellow card.
2. A prominent lawyer suggested that the media should fully investigate systemic failures instead of moving to the next juicy story. This is very true. God alone knows what is the worth of talk shows if there is no follow up on any issue. The concerned people could follow up on discussion forums the net if possible.
3. One gentleman also pointed out that it is better to avoid sweeping generalizations and target only those media channels who wrongly sensationalized the whole thing. This is also correct but the problem is that after a few days, everyone will forget and it won’t be a surprise if there is a repetition in the future.
4. It was also pointed out that the term media trial is misleading. It should be media exposure and the media should confine its role to highlighting instead of also trying to be prosecutor and judge which is clearly exceeding its limits.
5. Someone suggested that there should be no political interference in the functioning of the police. The media and the judiciary have complete autonomy and if they can behave irresponsibly on occasions, one wonders what would happen if the police were to behave likewise. One has to have transparency in all matters so that misuse of powers is minimized irrespective of the profession.
6. Many youngsters pointed out that the media had no business in probing private SMS messages or whatever which is hardly debatable and which is why I mentioned the yellow card earlier.
7. One lady relative of Mr Talwar was shown crying on how he needed to be left alone with the family after release to mourn his daughter’s death. This was not discussed long enough or debated whether the media had any business to be there in the first place.
Rajesh Talwar’s elder brother Dinesh Talwar summed it up by saying that they all had to decide what kind of functioning of our democracy had to take place if such disasters had to be averted. Without any regular mechanism of follow up, not much change is likely to be effected. In India, we have more drama than karma.
The media went too far in its professional interest in this case. It is true that every person has his professional agenda which is most important to him or her and people going to any lengths to further their professional interest has become an all pervasive phenomenen. Agar society hoti badiya, na hota media ya Gudiya:-