On July 2, the media had its O.J. Simpson moment with Maria Susairaj.
It would have been another boring day full of Lokpal stalemate and Team Anna’s audience with the Queen herself but for small mercies (no pun intended). Maria Susairaj walked out of jail after three years having served her time for ‘destruction of evidence’ in the Neeraj Grover murder case. Anyone can understand the outrage and anger of the Grover family and even of the general public. But our media did exactly what was expected of them: create great drama and then blame Maria for all the publicity. Behind all the self-righteous outrage the media reporters could hardly hide their glee over the chance of displaying their histrionics and their moral superiority over courts of this land. Here is a tweet from the usual Rahul Kanwal, on July 2, that says it all:
“Media also needs to be careful. Maria is finally getting all the publicity she could have dreamt of. Feel very bad for Neeraj's parents”
Hmmm! It wasn’t just Rahul Kanwal’s channel but also Arnab Goswami of Times Now who provided the most extraordinary nonsense in the coverage of Maria’s release. Kanwal’s tweet is a perfect reflection of the media – first behave stupidly, then sermonise. That’s behaving like vultures and then shedding crocodile tears. Whether you’re good, bad or evil the vulture doesn’t really care as long as it gets to have a sumptuous meal of you. That's the media for you!
Let’s start with the release of Maria. Times Now ran a headline “Killer Walks Free”. So that headline tells you who’s the best judge of a crime. That headline is not so much against Maria but against the judge who passed the sentence. Put aside emotions for a moment. No matter how much one is enraged by the event, Maria is not a killer unless she had put a knife into the deceased or participated in that act. Yes, she could be an ‘accomplice’ or as the court has ruled, ‘destroyed evidence'. She was convicted for the latter and sentenced accordingly to 3 years which was time she had already served and therefore released. The prosecution does not appear to have accused or proved Maria to have put a knife into Neeraj. But the media goes on a song and dance with ‘how can she be released’? Well, what are the police to do? Hold her against the orders of a court? Little does Times Now realise that the ‘killer walks free’ headline could well merit a defamatory case. And if Sharif Shaikh, Maria’s now famous lawyer, decides to walk that line it could hurt the Grover family even more. Such is the cavalier reporting by Times Now.
Times Now’s hyper reporters screamed that Maria was protected and given special treatment by the jail authorities and allowed to drive away without letting the media question her. Well, let me make it clear the media does not have any RIGHT to question Maria and Maria has the absolute RIGHT not to talk to the media at all. So Times Now continued to protest that the media was not allowed to question her. Reporters were hanging around the jail like vultures ready to swoop on Maria and shove and jostle her and maybe even heckle her but fortunately that did not happen. And that unfortunately is the media’s grouse.
Let me make another point amply clear. The frontline reporters and cameramen of the media are the most indecent lot you will see in a democracy. Some of them are as indecent as regular goondas. No one taught these goondas that you cannot push and shove, no one taught them you cannot shove mics into someones face and body, no one taught them they should keep a safe distance from any person they wish to cover or question. In fact, this crowd of vultures do pose a physical threat. It can anger convicts like Salman Khan who once beat up a few reporters for similar behaviour. Even in regular press meets with a PM or a prominent public figure these assholes do not know how to behave and usually end up shouting questions all at once instead of one at a time.
So who exactly are Times Now and Headlines Today to demand that Maria should have spoken to the media on her release from jail? Why should she? She is under no obligation whatsoever to talk to ANYONE. And then her foolish lawyer, Sharif Shaikh, discloses her movement plan (church, evening presser etc.) so that the media can chase her and follow her to the church she visited. He had his 15 minutes of fame and is now likely to be in great demand too. And be careful how you read headlines like ‘Killer walks free’. Who the hell is the media to decide she is a killer? This is how the media plays on public opinion. Even if the general public believes Maria is a killer the media has no business to declare her one.
Then they complained that media was not allowed to question Maria on her release from jail. Well, when she did hold a press meet in the evening Times Now was quick to ridicule the exercise by asking ‘What’s the point’? Well, if TimesNow didn’t see a point in the press meet why is it they wanted to interact with Maria at the jail area in the first place? Wait, that’s not all they declared the press meet was all a ‘bizarre insensitive drama’! Drama or not the media was the one that wanted her to speak to them in the first place. And then the TimesNow reporter went on to do a psychological analysis of Maria on her calmness, how she was faking, that she was used to cameras, and that she had achieved her goal of ‘publicity’.
If all that was not enough there is a jerk called Ram Gopal Verma, whose movies have now been flopping with regularity, who crawls out to make a statement. The media can’t believe its luck. So there is more drama with insensitive comments about a movie with Maria by RGV and in the evening Headlines Today pits him against the family of Neeraj Grover for a discussion. So Rahul Kanwal, when you say “Media should be careful..” you’re speaking through your ass and your channel is the one that is not being careful.
Even if there wasn’t all this drama after her release Maria Susairaj had already become a celebrity-criminal. The question for the media is why aren’t they asking the same about others who have already been convicted? Why is there media silence on Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt? Both are convicted criminals and both should be in jail. But the media will not talk about them because indirectly they are a source of revenue for the channels and the press. All the song and dance and comedy and action from movies of Salman and Sanjay are an immense source of revenue for the mediacrooks. So why should they want to see these convicted celebrities in jail? Why in the world would they want to see Maria Susairaj in jail instead of seeing more movies or TV serials about her that means money to the channels?
The family of Neeraj Grover is rightfully feeling hurt and anger. Those friends of Neeraj Grover who disrupted the press meet of Maria Susairaj did him no favour. One protester even got close enough to pose a physical threat to Maria. This doesn’t do any good for the Grovers. The Grover family must understand that the media is neither interested in justice nor in what happens to Maria or Jerome. They wanted their fun and they had their day in the sun. The Grovers can now start their long trudge towards the justice they seek.
Mark my words! In a few months or years these very channels will be falling over each other to do emotional and charming interviews with Maria Susairaj over some movie release or some Big Boss episode. She provides all the regular ingredients for our media - murder, sex, deception, intrigue and a grieving family. Vultures really don’t care who dies and crocs need to have their meal. You know what feeds them.