HC grants bail to Rhea Chakraborty and declares that, due to the absence of any suitable evidence, she is innocent of the allegations against her. Will India atone for condemning her?
Welcome to the country where people would prefer to judge a woman guilty of a crime without it being proven, deride her as a gold-digger, label her a witch who performs black magic, and condemn Rhea Chakraborty to jail rather than accept that a man can be driven to suicide by depression.
When a promising star of Bollywood, Sushant Singh Rajput, took his own life on the 14th June, few imagined the extent to which a pall of shame would descend upon society. Shame for justice, for truth, for the empowerment of women, and most unfortunately, for humanity.
Rhea Chakraborty’s redemption exposes, but likely won’t alter, the forces of media bias, patriarchy and hypocrisy.
“She is not part of the drug dealers. She has not forwarded the drugs allegedly procured by her to somebody else to earn monetary or other benefits. Since she has no criminal antecedents, there are reasonable grounds for believing that she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail. There are reasonable grounds for believing that she is not guilty of any offence punishable under Sections 19, 24 or 27A (of NDPS Act) or any other offence involving commercial quantity,” said HC.
The news of a star’s death took social media and the TV news channels by storm. Soon enough, Indian society focussed it’s collective gaze, and stereotypical assumptions, on Rhea Chakraborty — the girlfriend of the beloved deceased Indian star who, like other Indian women who lose their partner, ate her man.
Or wait. Maybe, they are actually correct. Indian men are superior, and perhaps they can’t take their own life because one, their women eat them, and two, mental health is a joke.
Character assassination ruined Rhea Chakraborty’s life and career
The extent to which the saga is difficult to contextualize; but in this moment of catharsis, it is worth the attempt. The filth that the country witnessed in recent months take four forms: Arnab Goswami, Kangana Ranaut, the system that allows such groundless assumptions by the masses to become a verdict and the repugnant mindset that has its roots in patriarchy. Before the country settles upon a suitable way to apologize to the 28 years old actress, Arnab Goswami deserves a lesson on journalism and professional ethics, which ought then to spur a decision as to how he is going to rectify the damage he has wrought.
In the aftermath of the Rhea Chakraborty saga, resentment lingers, but the patriarchy and the media shrug.
Indian Media hits rock-bottom in Rhea Chakraborty’s Case
The News and Broadcasting Association of India (NBA) has clearly laid out 4 code of ethics for the news channels —
1) Ensure neutrality
2) Abhor sex and nudity
3) Ensure privacy
4) Refrain from advocating or encouraging superstition
This is enough to conclude that journalism is now a joke in India. Abiding by the code of ethics is a nominal thing, Arnab Goswami is not even attempting the basics that his profession demands from him — conveying the information.
Republic TV is less about informing people and more about corrupting them.
Goswami’s appetite for TRP and political motives to mobilize support in one party’s favor before the Bihar elections, has made one thing clear — self regulation is clearly not working out for Indian news channels.
There is a pressing need to hold the Indian media accountable for their coverage, which has descended into conspiracy theories and journalists who think of themselves as self-appointed judges.
Typified by Arnab, almost the entire news industry attained a new low when they violated the privacy of a family, lynched a woman in the name of news and reduced the tragedy of someone’s death to salacious commentary on a drug scandal, sex scandal, and inferences of superstitious practices.
Today I hang my head in shame at this macabre joke that calls itself the media.Swati Chaturvedi, Special to Gulf News
Sickening. Rhea is 28. Not convicted of any crime. Has lost her partner & is now hounded by multiple agencies pic.twitter.com/4RcPhDBQNy— Swati Chaturvedi (@bainjal) September 6, 2020
And what about the Manikarnika actress who is delusional about actually being a Jhansi Ki Rani?
While most of the big names in Bollywood stood in support of Rhea Chakraborty, there was one figure who is equally responsible for the media trials. In an attempt to settle her old scores with Bollywood and to align herself with the increasing right-leaning sentiments of Indians, Kangana Ranaut set a perfect example of how one woman can ruin another woman’s life.
It was appalling to witness the Manikarnika actress use the issue to make herself some space in Indian politics, bringing matters like Kashmir and Ayodhya into a suicide case in Bollywood. As much as it doesn’t make any sense, it also reflects how lightly Miss. Ranaut takes issues she alleges are close to her heart.
Kangana Ranaut went on to project herself as a freedom fighter through various ways —
Her controversial behaviour escalated when she labelled Deepika Padukone’s struggle with depression a ‘drama’.
Watch: Deepika Padukone on depression and mental health
After condemning the depression of the Padmavat actress as a PR stunt, she finally accepted Padukone’s clinical condition, only to then conclude that depression is a result of doing drugs. It’s dispiriting to see how we, as a society, let such renowned people who influence millions, get away with spreading rumors and misinformation for personal means.
Rhea Chakraborty faced a frightening media trial and nationwide defamation, which included endless death and rape threats. Now that that truth is before everyone, are the people of India going to hold Arnab Goswami and Kangana Ranaut equally responsible for what they did? Probably NO. Because next on the list of the culprits is the patriarchal mindset.
Enough of patriarchy
Remember when Rekha was subjected to a witch hunt when her husband took his life in 1990 due to depression? The evergreen diva of Bollywood was labelled the national vamp not just generally, but also by some big names from the film industry like Subhash Ghai and Anupam Kher. Surprisingly, nothing like that happened when news about Sridevi’s death broke. Bonny Kapoor was only a poor husband who lost his wife.
Thirty years later, history repeats. This time with an unmarried couple, again a man kills himself out of depression and the country abuses, threatens, lynches and puts the woman behind bars.
Who would care to apologise?
The law later declares that the woman had nothing to do with the man’s death and the country goes to sleep. Who would care to apologise? Who would care to make amends? If you think the answer is the system, it is almost laughable.
Where do you think these news media houses get such liberty to deliver verdicts in the name of journalism?
Will the system that does not feel sorry for the rape of a Dalit girl whose body is burnt without informing her family, feel sorry for an actress accused of taking her lover’s life?
Will the people who trolled and harassed Rhea on social media before the law delivered its decision say sorry to her? Will the Indian media that made her a subject of public outrage say sorry to her? Will her fellow Bollywood stars, who not only jumped the gun but pointed it at her for their personal motives and two seconds of fame, say sorry to her?
Probably not. And if they don’t, then it’s high time. Rhea Chakraborty better sue them. Because it’s the 21st century. And women don’t take it anymore.