The nation is still unable to come to terms with the reports of the gang rape and murder of eight year old Salma (Name Changed) in the Rasana village of the Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir. The new revelations and charge sheet point towards the horrific ordeals borne by the girl before she was brutally murdered. But what has been even more disgusting about this particular incident is the way in which the left-leaning media has altered the narrative to suit its own agenda.
It is unusual for protests over a rape and murder case to happen more than 2 months after the incident. But this is what we are witnessing today. The actual incident which ended on or before 17th of January was largely left unnoticed by the Leftist media houses of the country. There were no follow-ups done by the media houses right after the shameful incident happened.
So much so that the first time it was mentioned by JNU students’ union ex-vice-president Shehla Rashid in the India Today Conclave held on the 9th and 10th of March went largely unnoticed. Rahul Kanwal, the managing editor of India Today Television and the anchor of the event, did not even pursue the matter after it was mentioned by Shehla Rashid on the panel.
Such was the lack of information on the topic that it drew almost no comments, but the matter was then politicized, communalized and then very conveniently brought forward to divide the Hindus and the Muslims of the Jammu region.
The Bakarwal community’s protest against the local police and government for the shoddy handling of the case also went under the radar of the national news. They simply did not have anything to report about a case which happened in the far regions of Jammu. And then the Unnao case happened.
There had been a report by some media houses on the incident in the 2nd week of February but it had failed to grab any attention. The tweets of Mehbooba Mufti on the 16th of February followed by the reports concerning the arrest of the accused Special Police Officer also failed to garner attention.
The alleged involvement of a BJP MLA in the Unnao rape case gave the media the fangs it was lacking. The opposition too joined in the fray, and suddenly, it was the right time to bring up the Kathua case. It was slowly given an angle- the first one was the angle of Hindu-Muslim divide in the Jammu region. The next step was showing the Bar Association in Kathua and other groups who were voicing their insecurities over fair investigation process in a negative light. The national media conveniently covered it in a negative light by changing the narrative of the rallies to “pro-Hindu” and “pro-rapist”. The rallies by the Bar Association of Jammu was demanding the same thing which the Bakarwals had in the past- a CBI inquiry due to the dissatisfaction with the investigating officers and process.
There were many more eminent scholars and celebrities who came out subsequently and demanded ‘justice’ for Salma (Name Changed) and her family while they were completely unaware of the developments of the case themselves. The opposition lapped up this chance and took out candle light marches.
The local police had in fact handed over the investigation process to the Crime Branch on January 22nd itself. The investigation process has unfortunately not been transferred to the CBI by the Mehbooba Mufti led PDP government in Jammu and Kashmir, despite several shortcomings. But the media has steadfastly refused to take up this angle.
The role of the media in politicizing and giving a twist to the Kathua issue will be highly debated in the times to come. We need to ponder over these things ourselves. There is an urgent need to extract the truth from the facts being displayed in the media nowadays. The media should ideally focus on displaying the news without pedalling an agenda. The final verdict is left to you, the reader.