Ranjona Banerji: Anyone cares about Lakhimpur Kheri? Coz his name is Khan

06 Oct,2021

Ranjona BanerjiBy Ranjona Banerji


Big News Week in India. Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan found at a boat party full of drugs off the Mumbai coast! Drugs! Bollywood! Film star! Star son! Movie people! Rich people! Muslim names! Drugs! Debauched lifestyles! Rich kids! Drugs! All 25 gm of them! Drugs! Muslim names! Star son! Shah Rukh Khan! Khan!


Not fit for news: 3000 kg of heroin worth over Rs 20,000 crore found at Kandla port which is owned by a successful industrialist whose wealth grew by 261 % while the planet grappled with Covid19. Okay, okay, all disconnected.


But since the names involved were not Khan or Mumbai or Bollywood or did I say Khan already, why bother to do a story on these drugs at all. Heroin shmeroin, 3000 kg has got nothing on 25 gm of charas and cocaine, right?


And then there’s Lakhimpur Kheri.


Did you watch “television news” on that day? It took a while I gather for television channels to distract themselves from Khan! Drugs! Bollywood! to fully comprehend that three SUVs, one of them apparently driven by a BJP minister’s son, drove into rows of protesting farmers sitting by the roadside. At least eight people killed including farmers, a journalist mis-identified as a BJP worker by the BJP and the error amplified by its captive media channels, BJP workers, as well as several injured.




But why should a BJP minister’s son running his car through protesting farmers be of any news value? Unless you can provide excuses for the minister, his son, the driver. All the sorts of excuses which you cannot provide for a Khan! Son! Star! Drugs! Bollywood. Instead the attention must border on the sort of ignore you have already given to: Ka…n…d..la…port…owned…by…important…dr…ugs…3000 kg…important…per…son…heroin…Rs20000…crore…


Sorry, I have a bad throat so I cannot possibly focus on this story.




The seeming collapse of law and order across India is not really a collapse. It is part of that concerted strategy to destroy India’s structure.


And how the Indian media has knowingly pandered to that destruction. It will be one of our biggest tragedies that when the history of these times is written, that no matter how bad the situation in India got, no matter how democracy was destroyed, no matter how desperate Indians felt, the bulk of the Indian media carried on glorifying the Supreme Leader and his bunch of toxic incompetents.


Because clearly you can murder people in cold blood while they’re protesting for their right to fair livelihood and consultancy in a democratic setup, and the Indian mainstream media will give you a free pass.


You can also arrest activists on patently trumped-up charges. You can use military spyware to infiltrate private spaces of journalists. You can incarcerate Muslims because they are Muslims, Dalits because they’re Dalits, and large swatches of the mainstream media will watch and cheer. Can you even imagine this happening in any other time? The media by nature feeds on controversy and drama, even if it doesn’t hold itself to principles like showing truth to power.


But not when it comes to the hate-spouting BJP and its Hindutva brethren. No, then the Indian media supports the hatred by promoting lies like “Hindus are in danger”.


In which other time would this incident in Assam have not been the top news item for days?


“A delegation of rights defenders who visited Assam’s Darrang district, where a day labourer and a child were killed in a land reclamation drive in a minority-dominated settlement last month, has reconstructed a grim picture of the government and private groups creating a situation that culminated in the police firing.


The fact-finding team has also reproduced an account that sheds more light on a related incident in which a photographer stomped on the day labourer, Maynal Hoque, moments after he was shot. Footage of the atrocity had sent shock waves across the world.”


Did it really? No shock waves when it comes to the Indian mainstream media especially television. Assam is now a BJP state where the chief minister is an ex-Congress member, whom the media told us was a massive loss to the Congress and a big mistake by Rahul Gandhi in letting him go. Well, this is Himanta Biswa’s Assam for you:



If the media does not wake up to reality after Lakhimpur Kheri, then it probably never will.


Let’s jeer about the collapse of Facebook instead as our imagined world of democracy is destroyed around us. And I haven’t even mentioned the Pandora Papers and the latest on the exploits of the super rich.


If the Greeks don’t, am sure psychologists have a word for it.


Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia every Tuesday and Friday. Her views here are personal



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