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Is mainstream media losing itsconscience?
A debate has been raised on the role of media for showing imageof a young girl, stripped by rowdy youngsters. Mainstream mediawas thrashed by major sections of society for playing the visuals of a humiliated adivasi girl in the name of journalism..
Nava Thakuria, 11 Dec 2007 Views:
Live Debate: Should the BJP and Congress come together?SHOULD THE media depict the image of a young girl, stripped by some unruly youth in a citystreet during the broad daylight? More surprisingly, should the picture of the girl, of courseblurring some portions of it, be printed in the front page of several daily newspapers after daysof the incident? Questions are also raised, why it was not imperative for the newspaper andtelevision channels to have permission first from the victim to do so? Moreover, had they done(or would continue doing so) the same if the victim was from an affluent family?All the debates in public domain of Assam in Northeast India came alive with an unfortunateincident that took place in Guwahati, the prime city of the region, on November 24. It was ausual Saturday morning for the residents of Beltola in Guwahati that grew up with violence atnoon all of a sudden. The city people witnessed a calm procession of around thousandAdivasis (aboriginal), both male and female, from Beltola to Dispur, the seat of political power in Assam. The demonstrators, equipped with traditional bow-arrows, marched to the statesecretariat at Dispur to add voices to their demand for inclusion the community in theScheduled Tribe list. They were hoping that it would benefit the community of tea and ex-tealabours of Assam with the help of reservation policies of the Union government of India ineducation and job opportunities.The on-duty police force initially tried to prevent the demonstrators on the street, which onlyangered the participants. Many of them continued the march. Suddenly, some of them turnedviolent and adopted unprovoked vandalism. “The angry demonstrators started damaging thegovernment city buses, private vehicles parked at roadside, shops and even personalproperties. Even some pedestrians were also not spared by them. Many of them carried their traditional bow-arrows, but few of them were equipped with stick and hammers too,” said aneyewitness of the Beltola incident, who incidentally recorded the visual of the moment with hisnewly bought camera.Soon the protesters faced another batch of police near the secretariat complex and this timethe police with the help of paramilitary forces dispatched them. Facing the harsh action fromthe police forces, which burst tear gas shells to disperse the protesters, the frightenedAdivasis started fleeing back in small groups. But more cruel strides were waiting for thedemonstrators as some local people retaliated by attacking them. For around an hour therewere group clashes in full view of the media persons, where Adivasi demonstrators weremercilessly beaten up by some youths that resulted in death of a protester and hundreds other injured.The demonstrators assembled in Guwahati from different parts of the state following theinitiative of All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam (AAASA), an influential students body of the state. Initially, the AAASA leaders decided to hold a meeting at south Beltola high school insupport of their longstanding demands. But a section of participants came out for a processionaiming to reach the state assembly at Dispur. And all the unwanted incidents followed thereafter, where one Adivasi named Samson Naguri had to sacrifice and nearly 250 got injured,many of them left in serious conditions, during the mob violence.Amidst the chaotic situation, an Adivasi girl was also stripped off by some rowdy youths. Thegirl, a high-school standard student, hailed from Biswanath Chariali locality in upper Assam.Many local residents however braved to come out and gave shelter to the humiliated Adivasiprotesters and one of them named Bhagiram Barman took the risk of his life and saved the girlfrom further physical and mental assaults. Later, she was handed over to the police. But in themeantime, her naked image was recorded by the media persons and even by some cellphoneholders. And the debates slowly but steadily grew up.The state government of Assam had already received brickbats for the untoward incident fromdifferent sections in the society. The condemnations were poured from the main oppositionpolitical parties like Asom Gana Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party and Communist Party of India (Marxist). Condemning the violence, the party leaders demanded the resignation of theCongress-led coalition government. Similarly, a number of social organizations including theNorth East Peoples Initiative, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, Gauhati UniversityTeachers’ Association, Asom Mahila Samata Society, Lekhika Samaroh Samity, GuwahatiSachetan Mahila Samaj with others came out with demands to take actions against thoseguilty of creating the violence and vandalism on the day.A series of citizens meeting, organized by Concerned Citizens Forum, Journalists Forum,Assam with others concluded with strong words of resentment against the Tarun Gogoi-ledovernment and also resolved in a ealin eace and harmon amon the eo le of theBe a Citizen JournalistSubmit News & ArticlesRewards & Recognition
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