I don’t remember if it was on We The People or the Big Fight (debate programmes on current affairs broadcast by NDTV), they were discussing the pressure of media and public opinion on recent judgments like the Jessica Lal murder case, the Nithari killings and the Arushi Talwar murder case. An eminent lawyer, Ram Jethmalani was ranting (perhaps, holding his evening drink) about how the media affected the case of the client he was representing (Manu Sharma), while the judge, sitting in the panel, vociferously denied that.
It was shocking to watch yesterday how a youth from Gaziabath was killed, allegedly in a false encounter by the police. It grew murkier by every passing hour and by late evening every major news channel was covering it. If it hadn’t been for the TV channels, this would have turned into any one of those hundreds of encounters carried out by the police. None of the reporters were trying to carry out their own investigations and trying to take the law into their own hands, they were simply pointing out the loopholes — since most of the policemen are basically stupid (they are powerful, nonetheless), they couldn’t even concoct a proper story around the brutal murder.
Whatever was the reason and whatever was the motive, you just don’t pump
5 12 bullets into the chest of a person who is trying to run away. And anyway, policemen are instructed not to shoot above the abdomen unless under extreme circumstances. Another reporter said that the police had claimed there were two more friends of his that were absconding. The jungle (where the encounter took place) wasn’t being combed by the search parties and police dogs.
Anyway, the point is not whether he was guilty or not or whether the encounter was legitimate, everybody knows that crimes go unpunished in our country. 10s of encounters take place all over India everyday with no valid inquiry. In media the common man/woman finds a voice. If the police doesn’t file an FIR, or bullies a small businessman, they can approach a news channel and they’re are more than happy to highlight the transgression. Of course some go overboard, but it happens everywhere. Police goes overboard — criminals have a less fear of it than the common folks. Corrupt politicians have become folklore stuff.
The growth of news media is I think the best thing that has happened to India. Of course channels like NDTV and CNN-IBN mostly act like the Congress mouthpieces and it is often embarrassing to watch them, with more and more aggressive news media, it is increasingly becoming difficult for the powerful people to commit crimes and get away with them.