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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Point of view: reporter’s role in street crimes

A lot is being said and written about Guahati street molestation case. Many are accusing the TV cameraman for not stepping in to help. I wish to mention my Point of view on this. Big B Amitabh Bachchan also expressed unhappiness as to why TV crew recorded the incident instead of helping the victim.  This is just my opinion with the limited information I have on the issue.
When a reporter is at the crime scene or becomes witness to a roadside rage, there’re two actions he can take:
 
Option 1: Record the incident, capture faces of the culprits and their action.
OR
Option 2: He leaves the camera behind, goes to correct the scenario, fighting with the culprits
 
Let us assess the practicality, pros and cons of both possibilities:
 
Let us check on the Option 2 first, which everyone is saying the reporter should have opted for.
 
It is good to be a hero. But how practical it would have been? I am  sure TV reporter is no hero like Big B and he couldn't have fought alone against a gang of 10+ people. If he'd intervened, probably following would have been the result:
  • The gang hits back at him, his camera broken into pieces and he himself beaten to death. (important evidence is destroyed)
  • May be once the gang's attention is diverted towards him, the girl might have managed to escape. Would she come back to attend to him once the gang left? Would she accompany him to the police station to file the complaint?
  • Post fighting, if the journalist and the girl had gone to police station, how would the police capture the culprits without any proof? Even with crystal clear video evidence Guwahati police are yet to arrest all the accused. Guess what would have happened if there're no evidence
  • What if the police had hit back the reporter and girl with questions like "What is your relationship with her",  "what were you doing there with her" and so on
  • Without evidence, suspects will have to be identified using sketches drawn based on the description given by the victims and through an identification parade. In the night, while fighting with the gang of 10 people, how will one remember the description of each person and later narrate it to police artist? Influential suspects will prove that they were not even in city that night, rendering the police helpless
  • Without the video, will the media follow up on this news beyond a day or two? With no media pressure, it will be easy for police to go easy on the case and eventually let the suspects go scot free as the incident fades from public memory
  • We've seen in movies like "No one killed jessica" how many of the party goers would actually come up to testify in court. Our judiciary needs evidence. Without evidence and testimonials, how would the girl and reporter get justice?
  • Hundreds of rape and molestation incidents keep happening around the country everyday. Most of them go unreported. Even on those which are reported, victims have to undergo a horrific time and threat to get justice, if at all they get it. On how many of such cases media or other people cares to follow up?
For reasons best known to the reporter, he didn't go for above option, instead chose to stay away and capture the incident on video. Now we've concrete evidence and because of that, culprits are out in the open, there's high media pressure on police to act. With their photos in public, culprits can't hide for long.
 
We don't know what was going on in the mind of the reporter as he was capturing the crime. If he had some other motives, if he was party to the crime, certainly he should be questioned. Also he should have exercised some discretion while releasing unedited version of the video to internet. May be he should have captured the evidence and called for backup/support. May be he should have done  a  combination of Option 1 and 2. It is easy to comment from the comfort of our homes. Let us not pass judgments, since we don't know ground reality and often form our opinion based on what we see and hear.
 
Do watch the English movie "Taken (2007)"

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