The Media Witch-Hunt : A Call For Basic Fundamental Rights


Gold Digger. Khalnayika. Vishkanya. Witch. Murderer. Manipulator. A little disturbed reading these words? Well, us netizens and the media have been referring to Rhea Chakraborty by these names for more than two months now. And notice, these are not ending with a question mark, rather they are declarations made by us in the name of Justice for Sushant. 

In today’s article, I will not talk about Sushant Singh Rajput, I think other people have been doing that enough. Rather I will focus on the “so-called” villain of this case – Rhea Chakraborty. Only over 4 months ago, in June, Rhea Chakraborty was a well respected woman in the society, who was living her life by her own will. Fast forward four months later, the same woman cannot even walk out of her own house without being hounded by the media for a case she has only been accused of, remember, innocent until proven guilty? I think not. I will not make any comments on the case, because I am not the expert here. But what I will say is give the woman some privacy and treat her as an equal human being! Is that not one of our fundamental rights? Is it so much to ask? 

On September 8th, the third day of her interrogation by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Rhea Chakraborty wore a shirt that read, “Roses are red, violets are blue, let’s smash the patriarchy, me and you.” The message was clear and impactful. To quote shethepeople, “Here was a woman – hounded up by cameramen invading her personal space , brutalised through several rounds of media trials, name-called with the vilest abuses on the internet – and yet, unwilling to back down.” This is when thankfully some of us started giving her some respect. Were we waiting for some black and white print or the media witch hunt to make us realise this injustice? 

However, there were some of us, whose minds have been so clouded by the media, that ofcourse shots were taken at her dressing too. Fingers were pointed at her calling her for her ‘how dare she’ attitude, or she’s trying to play her ‘woman card.’ Vile opinions have been passed even when she adorned a white salwar kameez after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput. Because a woman who is grieving her boyfriend is supposed to look a certain way. Right? Is she not allowed to grieve in private without being questioned about her intent? 

Rhea’s identity has been totally maligned in this case. She has been accused of allegedly controlling Sushant’s finances, feeding him drugs, basically controlling his life. The media have reduced a departed soul’s life to a mere tool. Moreover, if he has ever consumed those drugs, then she is being blamed for not taking care of her man. Is a man not capable of taking care of his own life? Why does she have to bear the brunt for every action ‘thought’ to have been done by Sushant Singh Rajput? Isn’t this what patriarchy is? Does she still not have the right to wear that shirt?

Now let’s focus on the question of gender equality. Many pictures went viral on September 6th, when Rhea was hounded and roughed up by many cameramen invading her privacy. Remember, firstly a Salman Khan or a Sanjay Dutt who had already been proved guilty were provided security when they were escorted to the jail. Rhea wasn’t and yet she was being harassed by these cameramen who were basically harassing her. Secondly, the coronavirus pandemic is still there. What happened to social distancing?

From the Aarushi Talwar to Rhea Chakraborty, it has been more than a decade, yet no lessons have been learned by the Indian media. Thankfully, social media was barely existent during the case of Aarushi Talwar in India, otherwise one can only imagine the magnitude of vile opinions being passed by people. The media have turned a story of real people into a movie. At this time I demand justice for Rhea. In an interview with Rhea Chakraborty in 2018, talking about the Me Too movement, and sharing her thoughts on the issue and how cinema can create an impact. She said, “All of us have a role to play in changing the mindset on gender equality. For thousands of years, injustice and discrimination happened to women even for their basic rights to live as equal human beings. While it is good to see that dialogue has started, I must say that if a man is not a feminist, he has lost the understanding of gender equality. Feminism is not male bashing. It is a concept to celebrate gender equality, providing equal opportunity to every human being beyond gender.” And she had decided not to be a part of any movie which projected women in a bad light. Ironically, two years later she has been forced into one. 

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