Arundhati Roy is the conscience of India. Her treatment by a greedy media playing the tunes of fundamentalists is deplorable and condemnable. Roy’s statement issued a day before says it all. As she writes, RSS is trying to deflect attention from the terrorists who attempted to blow up the shrine at Ajmer Sharif. What is wrong with these psychotic militants across South Asia. Sufis were hardly contested in the worst of times but we are living in an age where any message of peace, pluralism and tolerance is a threat to exclusivist ideologies. We cannot be silent about it.
The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJPâ€™s Mahila Morcha (Womenâ€™s wing).
After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.
What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the â€˜sceneâ€™ in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime?
This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me.
In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings?
The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir. So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers.
The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to â€œfixâ€ me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going.
So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice?
I can understand that the BJP’s Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured.
But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same?
Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?