Sunday, October 31, 2010

SOMETHING FOR THE MEDIA TO THINK ABOUT by Arundhati Roy

 
            

(Posted below is a statement issued by Arundhati Roy after a slogan
shouting mob turned up outside her house and tried to ransack her
residence on 31st October 2010 in the full glare of TV)


SOMETHING FOR THE MEDIA TO THINK ABOUT
A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning
(Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized
property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on K…ashmir,
and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now
and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live.
TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP's
Mahila Morcha (Women's wing). After they left, the police advised us
to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the
neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was
on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by
Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the
windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the
media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media
which positions itself at the 'scene' in advance have a guarantee that
the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if
there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something
worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime? This
question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are
in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race
for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing
news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be
sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated
that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition
against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for
Kashmir.


So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on
by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly
announced that they are going to "fix" me with all the means at their
disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The
whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to
which they are capable of going. So, while the Government is showing a
degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure
of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I
can understand that the BJP's Mahila Morcha is using me to distract
attention the from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has
recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in
Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But
why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer
with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or
is it a question of ideological alignment?

Arundhati Roy
 October 31st 2010