Anil Thakraney: Sarabjit saga: Disproportionate coverage

06 May,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Must say I am quite bewildered over the Sarabjit Singh media frenzy. The way the television media went over the top, for the Johnnie who came in lately, it would appear as if a top Indian minister had been hacked to death on a visit to Pakistan. This is not to say the man’s life had no value, but by Sarabjit’s own claim, he was no Indian spy or a state terrorist. Here was a small time farmer who got pissed drunk one fine day, and accidentally drifted into the enemy territory. Since then, Singh had been facing trial in that nation on charges of terrorism and espionage, and we really can’t blame the Pak courts for taking decades to arrive at a final verdict, our courts don’t do any better on that count.


Ergo, all that media tamasha over an aam aadmi killed by inmates inside a foreign jail? Prison violence happens regularly all over the world, and if my knowledge serves me right, jails are places where criminals reside, not nice guys. Therefore some blood bath is always expected. Which is why all the television noise beats me. Some channels have been addressing Sarabjit Singh as a martyr. Wow! Do they have secret information that the man was an Indian agent? In which case they should make that public.


Anyway, all the attention from the television media resulted in the expected. Bada netas made it a point to join the funeral procession (good chance for some quick OTS), our Pappu neta even offered the man’s sister a shoulder to weep on. Full state honours for a man who drifted into enemy territory drunk. And the way Singh’s sister used the incident to build her own fiery brand, I can see her being nominated as a red hot candidate in the next general elections.


Once again, this is not to belittle the man’s life. It’s to highlight the lopsided media coverage. Which often happens because of the herd mentality amongst the desi news channels. If one channel starts shouting about a story, a hundred others dutifully raise their own decibel levels. And then it becomes a total free-for-all.




PS: A Brisbane ad agency has created print ads supporting asylum seekers. This is to change the image of these new arrivals, which in Australia is pretty horrid (ask Indian students!). Good public service idea, and the ads do address the hard issues. And they have used real asylum seekers in the ads. All very well, but I have to say the guy featured in this particular ad looks a bit, er, dodgy. Perhaps they should have been more careful with the casting.

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