On the India TV panel was Kaushal Kishore Mishra, a BJP member and professor from Benaras Hindu University. Mishra was the most enthusiastic on the panel and, egged on by a vociferous crowd, seemed to be on a roll. About 20 minutes into the discussion, Somnath Bharti said something that contained the word Modi. Mishra stood up from his chair, visibly agitated and furious, and asked Bharti to keep quiet. It was then that another member on the panel – presumably representing AAP, since he asked Mishra to let Bharti speak – intervened.
That was the flash point – the crowd (more than 100 in number by then) erupted with slogans of “Maaro Maaro” (Hit him, hit him). Within seconds, the crowd unleashed itself on the panelist who had dared to stand up to Mishra. Soon, Bharti too was surrounded and pinned down by the crowd – now completely possessed. The cries of “Maaro Maaro” turned into “Maaro Kaato” (Hit hit, cut him up).
Bhupendra Chaubey, CNN-IBN’s National Affairs Editor, who happened to be in the crowd, plunged himself into the mob and tried rescuing Bharti who was more football than human by now, but found himself pinned down as well. Sensing serious trouble, Abhay Tripathi, a reporter with CNN-IBN, dragged Bharti away and somehow managed to push him inside the nearest car – which happened to be the one I had hired for the day.
The frenzied crowd followed close behind. Just as the car was beginning to move, the mob smashed the driver’s windowpane, injuring him in the face. To the driver’s credit though, he managed to keep his foot on the accelerator and flee with Somnath Bharti. The crowd, refusing to relent even then, flung bricks and stones at the fleeing car. In the process, they broke the rear windshield of the car. Thankfully my belongings which were in the car weren’t pilfered. So we can give the crowds full points for causing only bodily harm and indulging in vandalism, but not theft.
At the Bhelupur police station, Station House Officer (SHO) SK Singh told Newslaundry that India TV didn’t have permission from the district administration or the police to organise any kind of event on the ghats. Singh said, “In fact all news channels have been given written intimation not to organise any shows on the ghats. We’ll report this to the Election Commission and move charges against India TV.”
The question is, why is India TV – which had organised the panel discussion – not broadcasting the footage of the attack? Because it was flouting rules by organising a panel discussion where it didn’t have permission to do so? Or is it because it shows BJP in a bad light? The channel’s bashfulness in telecasting such dramatic footage is totally out of character, going by the sensational footage it usually passes off as news. The only channel showing any footage of the attack on Bharti is CNN-IBN.
We called Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of India TV, Rajat Sharma, to ask him why they had organised a panel discussion on the ghats when it wasn’t allowed, whether security was provided, why they weren’t playing the footage, and what they had done to control the mob? He asked us to call him tomorrow. We then contacted Anita Sharma, Senior Executive Editor at India TV who asked us to mail her our questions. She still hasn’t sent us her response. As she does, we shall update this article.
It’s commendable that Bhupendra Chaubey stepped into the mob to help Bharti. If anyone’s seen a mob in action in India, you’d realise how impressive it is that he decided to intervene instead of standing back and protecting himself. What’s not so commendable is that at the time of the incident, three channels – Times Now, IBN 7, Zee News – apart from India TV had their OB vans parked next to the ghats, preparing for broadcast. This was in direct violation of the rules put down by the police. In short, the media was a partner in crime in this reprehensible affair – one that will be remembered as a blotch on this election.
(Unless you are a proponent of the logic which is visible on Twitter, which believes in an eye for an eye.) About the other partner in crime in this incident, the less said the better.
Arunabh Saikia का लिखा और newslaundry.com में छपा उपरोक्त विश्लेषण पूरा पढ़ने के लिए यहां क्लिक करें… The mob, the media & Somnath Bharti
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