TV Channels Slammed for Media Trial of Rhea Chakraborty

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The channels have been doggedly covering the issue of Sushant’s death for months. This relentless coverage of an issue for such a long duration in an unfair manner has angered many, including the Press Council of India

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

 NEW DELHI – The unbridled coverage of young Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death by the news channels has come under severe criticism from prominent journalists and press bodies.

The channels have been criticised for relentlessly targeting Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty and airing unverified information and leaked personal messages while deliberately ignoring many real issues which matter to the people.

Video footage emerging on social media shows reporters heckling the delivery boy whom they perceived that he was going to deliver something to Rhea. In another clip, reporters can be seen questioning a watchman in those areas. They even interrupted the police officers who helped Rhea to come out of her car amid the swarm of reporters when she went to the CBI office in Mumbai.

The channels have been doggedly covering the issue of Sushant’s death for months. This relentless coverage of an issue for such a long duration in an unfair manner has angered many, including the Press Council of India. The Council has issued a statement asking the media to stop media trial in the Sushant case. It said that the media has violated the journalistic ethics and published information without ascertaining facts while covering the case.

“The media is advised to refrain from giving excessive publicity to the victim, witnesses, suspects and accused as it will amount to invasion of their privacy rights,” the Council said.

Talking to Clarion India on this issue, prominent journalist Arfa Khanum, who is working with the news website The Wire, said that the vilification of Dalits, minorities and some intellectuals had been happening through media trials. Everyone was silent at that time. We have since been warning that this will come to everyone.

“In this case, the media trial makes up a fit case. The target is an independent woman and model. Since ours is a patriarchal and majoritarian regressive society, women always had to face allegations. This case is perfect recipe for TRP in which there is suspense, thriller, murder, affairs and woman,” said Arfa.

“In a civilised society, there should be no place for such things whether it is on the murder mystery or vilification of a particular community. The court should take suo moto cognisance of this behavior of the media. This must stop once for all,” she added, asking that if the media starts conducting trials, should we end the system of judiciary and police?

Earlier, the Tablighi Jamaat also had to face media trials when some of their preachers tested covid-19 positive .The hateful coverage of the Tablighi Jamaat had triggered attacks and discrimination against Muslims in different parts of the country. However, at that time, the Press Council had not taken notice of it. But the Bombay High court had observed that the media peddled propaganda about Tablighi preachers.

“There was big propaganda in print media and electronic media against the foreigners who had come to Markaz Delhi and an attempt was made to create a picture that these foreigners were responsible for spreading coronavirus in India. There was virtually persecution against these foreigners,” noted the High Court on the role of the media in targeting Tablighi foreigners.

Apart from Arfa, there were some other prominent former and current anchors who also expressed their dislike over the ongoing media trial in Sushant’s case. Popular anchor Burkha Dutt is the one who slammed the channels for the unfair coverage of the case.

“Terrible to see this fall in news standards every day. Channels reporting WhatsApp exchanges between private citizens should first publish those of their own star journalists and anchors. Sad to see India Today descend to this depth,” tweeted Dutt.

Former NDTV anchor Nidhi Razdan also called out the news channels and wrote an article criticising the unfair coverage.

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