The heinous murder of the journalist Gauri Lankesh, a naxal supporter has been making headlines all around the globe. It cannot be gainsaid that this murder comes under the most despicable and heinous crime category. But the real question arises is that why only the murder of journalists like Lankesh are making noises while others barely gets a mention in mainstream media. It is because of the circle created by the English language journalists in the Lutyens Delhi which goes by a simple and treacherous idea — that which matters to us, matters. That which is far away, does not. This has been used to self-righteously explain away everything from why floods sweeping away villages and towns in Assam get less attention than two days of rainfall in Mumbai to why ponderous political editors nullifying the results of every election and mandating that the mandate given by the people is wrong.
But the murder of Lankesh who was a bitter critic of the Modi government, and also a known supporter of the Naxals was no such case. The heinous crime was immediately and one can say rightly condemned and protested by every known face of the Indian television news industry along with print journalists and so called intellectuals of the country. This mourning by the biggest names of the industry many of whom were friends with the deceased was covered by many reputed newspapers of the world.
The double standard of the Lutyens media circle gets exposed when one sees through the issue more potently. Lankesh who was murdered in ‘Silicon Valley of India’ i.e. Bangaluru, far away from Delhi got the most coveted coverage from the news channels while Jagendara Singh a journalist from Shajahanpur, Uttar Pradesh, who was burnt alive in 2015 didn’t got a mention leave aside a prime time slot.
If one analyses both cases then there emerges a lot of commonality among both the journalists. Both loved to criticise the politicians of their times and both wrote in their mother languages. But the real difference was their relation with the top notch journalists of the Delhi circle. Singh was not fluent in English nor did he had any friendship or networking with this elite group of Lutyens media. It is to be noted that many top editors of the Lutyens circle had personal friendship with Lankesh but Singh had none. After the murder of Lankesh, this group went berserk and started protest march all over the country along with Delhi and got a full state honoured funeral to their friend Lankesh, while Singh died with extreme agony in a neighbouring city and didn’t even get a mention. This clearly shows the apathy of this elite group towards the hinterland journalists and shows their mindset that what matters to them, matters only.
As a vocal critic of the Modi government or say right wing politics, soon after the murder of Lankesh, this elite group of journalists started maligning the central government despite the fact that the crime was done in the state of Karnataka under a Congress government and investigation is still on and no one knows the killers as of now. On the contrary, in the case of Jagendara Singh, despite his having been given dying statement about the culprits, nothing was done and the culprits are still roaming free.
Singh is not the only low-profile journalist whose murder has been ignored by this elite circle of editors who are hell bent on making themselves the only custodian of the India story. In fact, recently when Ram Rahim of Dera Sachcha Sauda was sentenced to jail, this brigade suddenly started remembering the journalist Ram Chander Chatrapati, who brought to the fore the case and was thus killed for the same way back in 2002. But he remained forgotten until Ram Rahim was sent to the jail.
Tarun Kumar Acharya, Sandeep Kothari, Hemant Yadav, Adhir Rai are few of the names who were killed in the line of duty but never got their due. So the brouhaha over Lankesh’s murder seems to be a clear cut agenda of Lutyen’s media brigade to defame the present-day government at the Centre and also to establish that it is they who set the agenda for the country and the country should follow them and not others.
Between 2013 and 2017 many journalists were killed which is sad and condemnable. One can see clearly how this elite circle of journalists from Delhi have ignored the killings of these 21 journalists from hindi heartland and on the other hand they brought the sky down over the killing of Lankesh. Killing a journalist of any language is not acceptable in any society but the selective condemnation shows the double standards of this circle.
Without any doubt, the perpetrators of lankesh’s murder should be brought to book at the earliest, but the question that comes to mind is how the murder of Lankesh shook the nation and names like Rajdeo Rajan didn’t make it to national media list leave alone nation. Rajan was allegedly killed on the orders of the powerful Rashtriya Janta Dal leader and gangster of Siwan, Bihar. Sadly, these 21 journalists did not belong to Lutyens media and hence their ghastly murders did not qualify for the brow beating that followed the Lankesh murder. The agenda is clear, if you kow toe our line we will fight for you, otherwise not.
The selective outrage of these celeb anchors have only one basis and that is defame the present dispension at the Centre and create anarchy in the country. They erupted within minutes of the murder of Lankesh and blamed the Modi government and its ideological patron RSS for the murder. But the question which arises here is how come no one questioned the chief minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiyah, under whose watch the murder was committed. If the buzz is to be believed then Lankesh was about to expose the nexus between industry and politics in Karnataka and was threatened for it. Now check this out. Jagendara singh who was killed in 2015 in UP, was about to expose the then UP Minority Affairs minister, Rammoorti Verma. M.V.N Shankar was killed while exposing oil mafia in Andhra. Ramchandra Chhatrapati in Sirsa was killed for exposing the saint of bling. If one sees a pattern here and it holds merit then it is Karnataka government who is to be blamed for the murder not the Centre.
Also, these celeb anchors have given birth to a new fallacy in televised news world. For them if the crime happens in a BJP ruled state, they will cry their heart out and demand resignation of the chief minister of that state and if the crime happened in a state controlled by other parties, then either they will fall silent or will say that the BJP has created such situation that the crime happened.
It is commendable that the civil society and media rightfully against the heinous murder of Gauri Lankesh but as seen, the same anger or outrage is missing when other journalists (not member of Lutyens Media) killed doing their duty.
The point is not just the selective outrage, but also the failure of the media to uphold the principles of a liberal democracy. A murder is murder whether of a right-winger or a leftist and it has to be condemn unilaterally and it is here that the talk of freedom of press and right to dissent sounds extremely void.
By Nilabh Krishna