Trial by media


It is always good to be an outsider looking in. I had a chance of doing it recently when I was away in India for more than a month.

There are lots of things which we take for granted and don’t realise that we have some of the best systems and regulations in force here.

Freedom and the responsibility of the press is one of them. Here the press really are constraint and law abiding. The same goes for the police. On the whole our police are hard working and follow the letter of the law. There are exceptions of course. But they are few and ar between. 

The day before I arrived in India, the murder of a fourteen year old girl was making the headlines. She came from a middle class family. She was found murdered in her room, and her parents, though in the house had no knowledge of it. When the body was found the next morning the immediate suspect was the servant who was missing. The police concluded that he was the murderer. This they did without searching the premises, sealing the scene of crime or gathering any evidence.

Next morning when the body of the servant was found, which has lain there from the day before, the police started throwing wild theories about, that the girl was,as they put it had a “bad character”!

The media then took over. Television cameras from various channels thronged the crime scene. Interrogating, putting forward theories and passing judgements.

Even naming possible suspects. They justified it by saying that the police were so incompetent that they were “botching up” the case.

In other words this was truly a trial by media, the likes of which I have never seen.

The police suddenly finding themselves a target (rightly so) of public ridicule, went on the defensive and started issuing several statements a day. As if it was a tennis volley!

The whole scenario was like a farce, not the immense tragedy that it was for the family. Some of the statements were quite unfounded and farcical. It reminded me of the media briefings which were coming forth every day from Portugal, in case of the missing girl Madeline.

Though the media frenzy was maddening but it did expose the fact that the police were very incompetent. They did not cordon off the crime scene, the allowed throngs of reporters and cameras in, while the speculated, rather than conduct a search for clues, or in this case the body of the servant. 

To my un accustomed eyes, this seemed like a disaster for policing and justice. It obviously is not so uncommon either, as the investigation in the case of the British teenager proved. The police had stated that she has drowned. If it was not for the protest and efforts,  of the family that the case was reopened.

Though there is sometimes coverage of certain events in this country, which seems excessive. And it is because of the rolling news channels. Of which there are many and they all have to fill their time. But am sure we will never see anything like it ever here.

Or can it?





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