One might call it the act of inexperienced or inept journalists, who possibly form the core team of these channels. One might see it as part of a particular modus operandi the channels have adopted to give succour to their viewership or one might think of some other interpretation, but there cannot be any doubt that the treatment meted out at the script-level to such a sensitive incident was ghastly and outrageous.
National Hindi news channels pounced on the story in the same manner as the victim was targeted on that fateful night. The incident in question, where a girl was molested in Guwahati, on July 9 by some local people in full public glare was indeed shocking. The video of the incident which ran on the channels was equally disturbing. But the scripts, which supported this video on different channels, did an inexplicable and unpardonable injustice to the victim.
These scripts, in the guise of being sensitive to viewers, used every weapon in the literary armoury to ensure they must be glued to the TV set. To start with, the country’s self-proclaimed fastest news channel, Aaj Tak, which ran the story with the slug, “Dhikkar hai”- (curse it), used a script that was baffling: “ Ghatana 9 July ki hai. Guwahati ke GS road par ek pub main ek birthday party. Har koi khusiyan manaane main mashgool. 11th class ki ek ladki. Ladki ghar jaane ke liye pub se bahar nikli. 11 class ki student par toot padte hain 12 darinde. Koi darinda uske baal kheenchta. Koi haiwaan usey thappad marta. Koi gunda uske shareer ko nochta. Koi apradhi uske kapde ko fadkar phenk deta. Koi zaalim usey sadak par ghaseetata. Darindo ke beech ladki taar taar hokar zameen par gir padti hai” –(Translated version—The incident took place on July 9. A birthday party was being celebrated in a pub on GS Road, Guwahati. Everyone was lost in celebrations. A 11th standard girl left the pub for her home. A bunch of barbaric people who were 12 in number just pounced on that girl. Some pulled at her hair. Some slapped her. Some hooligan clawed her body. Some criminal tore off her clothes. Some mobster dragged her on the road. The girl was, in a way, torn apart among those barbaric criminals.)
If you go through these lines of the script, it will suddenly occur to you that the entire script is being enacted in front of your eyes and you are just witnessing the ways and means by which her modesty was outraged on that night. Now pay attention to this line which says,” Darindo ke beech ladki taar taar hokar zameen par gir padti haii” (The girl, lying amid those barbaric criminals was completely torn apart). We have heard the commonly used phrase, “Izzat ka taar taar hona ” (The modesty violated, outraged or torn apart), but Aaj Tak script tells us that, “ladki taar taar hokar zameen par gir padti hai” (The girl was herself torn apart). Even Ramgopal Verma and David Dhawan could not have done such experimentation with the Hindi language in their respective masala movies. While this script was roaring on the TV set of Aaj Tak, the screen graphics were abuzz with phrases such as “Koi Darinda usey thappad marta. Koi uska shareer nochta. Koi uske kapde fadata………. (One barbaric hooligan slaps her. One claws her body. One tears her clothes….)”
It was confusing if “Dhikkar hai” or condemnable (Aaj Tak’s tag line of the story) should be used for the incident or for the script itself.
IBN7 channel, probably to add more spice to the story, innovated further and described the incident as, “20 sir wala ravan” ( Ravan with twenty heads). A different kind of Ramleela was being played on this channel. Before the story played out, the anchor alerted the viewers with these words: “Uske baal noche gaye. Uske Kapde faade gaye. Usey jaleel kiya gaya. Koi uski madad ko nahi aaya. Dekhiye Guwahati ke 20 rawan.” (Her hair was pulled. Her clothes were torn. She was humiliated. Nobody came to her rescue.) After this filmy introduction, the story played out with the tag “20 sir wala ravan” appearing again and again. The viewers, once again, got the feel of the step-by-step enactment of that incident, with the script going thus: “Ye guhaar hai us masoom ki jo 1, 2 nahi, 20-20 ravano ke beech akeli thi. Har ravan uski izzat taar taar kar raha tha. Gundo ke jhund ne usey daboch liya. Ek gunde ne ladki ka baal pakda. Dusare ne uska haath. Phir usey kheech kar sadak ke kinaare le aaye. Dekhte hi dekhte vahan 20 gunde jama ho gaye. Jara gaur de dekhiye Guwahati ke in raavano ko…..(This shriek belongs to that innocent girl, who is surrounded by not one or two but bytwenty Ravans. Every Ravan is tearing her modesty apart. A bunch of hooligans has completely seized her. One has caught hold of her hair. Other has grabbed her hand. Then they drag her to the corner of the road. In moments, twenty criminals gather there. Look carefully, look sincerely…. at these twenty Ravans of Guwahati)”
As the story ends, the anchor appears and apprises the viewers of the presence of some “tamashbeen” (onlookers) at the site of incident in the following manner: “Jab 11 class ki is ladki ko khuleaam insaani bhediye noch rahe they, vahan dheron log maujood they-(When human wolves were scratching the body of this 11th standard girl with their claws, a number of people were present there).” The script made one feel as if they were watching a horror movie. The channel, if not deliberately, completely missed the point that the victim in question was a human being with a life ahead. The headline of the story on the website (IBNKhabar.com) of the channel, was: “Baal pakde. Sadak par ghaseeta. Kapde tak phaad diye ladki ke (Held the hair. Dragged on the road. Even her clothes torn apart) ”
Zee News too competed for attention. Its top slug was: “Vo cheekhti rahi. Bheed nochti rahi. Log tamashbeen rahe. (She kept on screaming but the crowd continued with squeezing/clawing her body while the onlookers were just mute spectators.)” The producers and the copy writers of the channel seemed to have synchronized well as they used footage of the incident completely in tandem with the script in this particular case. If you go through the link of the Zee news story, the video posted against this line is in itself an insensitive narration: “Ek ladki chalti sadak par sare-aam haivaniyat ka shikaar ho rahi hai – ( A girl, being publically molested on a crowded road by barbaric criminals…. ).” Whosoever matched this line with the video footage indeed performed a miracle! It was reminiscent of B grade Bollywood movie clips that more often than not does injustice to the emotions of the victim.
India TV lived up to its reputation creating a Mahabharat-like scene with a top slug, “Desh ko Dushashan se bachao- (Save the country from Dushashan, a Mahabharat character who tried to molest Draupadi, wife of Pandavas).” There is nothing more to write about the India TV script or its coverage of the incident as the slugs used in its story were self-explanatory: “Ek cheekh se hil gaya Hindustan. Masoom chillati rahi. Vo nochte rahe. Aadhi raat ka sabse ghinauna chehara…- (One shriek got the entire country shivering. The innocent kept on crying. They continued squeezing/clawing her body. Have a look at the most repulsive truth of a midnight…). India TV went on screaming with more and more such slugs….”
The point to be noted is the use of homogeneous-type words in the scripts of almost all those channels. One will find the repetition of words such as “Gaur se dekhiye, Nochana, Khasotana, Gidgidana, Ghinauna, Dabochana, Zaalim, Taar-Taar karna, Darinde, Gunde.. (Sincerely look at this, claw, twitch, plead, abominable, pounce, ruthless, tear apart, barbaric, hooligan….etc.,)in almost every channel’s script. The portrayal raises questions: Are the Hindi news channels blindly following one another, imitating clichés, having nothing new to offer, or is there a complete dearth of talent in their news rooms? This may also be a case of copy writers or producers being forced by their editors to use clichés as they may be afraid of experimenting with anything new.
It was only NDTV which made a serious attempt to do something different and produce the story with the necessary sensitivity. The NDTV script read: “ Ye sharmnaak hai. Dekhiye apne samaaj ke un beto ko, jinka swagat aap thaaliyan peet kar aur laddoo bantkar karte hain. Koi 20 log milkar ladki ke saath badtmeezi kar rahe hain……Police ne ladki ko bacha to liya magar zara sochiye, us ladki par kya beet rahi hogi-(This is shameful. Look at the sons of your society who you welcome by beating drums and distributing sweets. About twenty people were misbehaving with a girl……. Police, though, saved the girl but please do think what the victim would have undergone in these circumstances..)”
One must not only question the channels’ intentions behind running offending scripts, but also ask questions regarding the repercussions of such presentation. We must pause to think what the victims of similar incidents would have felt while listening to such descriptions.
Aajtak story link:
IBN7 story link:
IBNKhabar story link:
Zee News story link:
India TV story link:
NDTV story link:
(Words such as “dabochana”, “nochna”, “khasotana”, “kapde fadna”, etc., and the style in which they have been used in Hindi scripts are pernicious in this context, but difficult to convey adequately in English translation.)