Rhea Chakraborty’s Witch Hunt by a Media Mob Has Broken Every Rule of Journalism

Social Commentary

Rhea Chakraborty’s Witch Hunt by a Media Mob Has Broken Every Rule of Journalism

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Five months after the coronavirus pandemic struck, all citizens of the country have been urged to continue maintaining social distancing norms and stay away from large gatherings. On Sunday, however, as Rhea Chakraborty arrived at the Narcotics Bureau in connection with the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, all those norms seemed to have been thrown out of the window, with hundreds of journalists hounding and pushing her, even as she was being escorted by the Mumbai police personnel at the time.

The visuals of the flustered actor being mobbed by journalists, with dozens of cameras shoved in her face, were met with a wave of criticism on social media, where a number of prominent personalities termed the behaviour of the reporters disgusting, and in violation of Chakraborty’s personal space.

A former IPS officer remarked that this incident of Rhea Chakraborty being mobbed was proof that “perversity had crossed all limits”, especially considering that the actor had just been brought in for questioning, and hadn’t even been convicted of any crime yet.

Chakraborty had been asked to appear at the NCB headquarters in Mumbai for questioning in a drugs case linked to Sushant Singh Rajput’s death. Her brother Showik Chakraborty and the late actor’s manager Samuel Miranda have also been accused and arrested for supposed links with drug cartels.

After Rhea Chakraborty was mobbed on Sunday, however, social media users also drew comparisons to the trials of actors Fardeen Khan and Sanjay Dutt, who despite being accused of drug-related activity, had never been treated this unfairly.

Actress Gauahar Khan said, in fact, that she hadn’t seen even the worst criminals being treated like this after their convictions, let alone during questioning.

Some, including senior journalists, also took umbrage to the fact that actor Kangana Ranaut was granted Y-Plus security for an alleged threat to her life, while Chakraborty received no such protection, despite being manhandled on a daily basis.

Several members of the Bollywood industry also expressed their disgust at the incident, with actor Swara Bhasker saying this was the lowest our country had ever stooped.

Actor Dia Mirza said the behaviour of the reporters was “reprehensible”, while Tapsee Pannu said the actor was being “lynched off her rights” in the name of justice.

Filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava noted that no amount of hate and venom was enough for Indians, who were not as interested in the real issues plaguing our country as they were in “burning Rhea at the stake”.

Senior journalist Barkha Dutt also took to Twitter to express her dismay at Sunday’s incident, reminding her colleagues in the media industry that it could easily have been any one of them in this situation.

On Monday, meanwhile, reports said that additional barricades had been installed at the NCB headquarters where Rhea Chakraborty will appear for a second day of questioning. But as the last two months have proved, those barricades will hardly go a long way in preventing the incessant vilification of the actor, who most journalists seem to forget, recently lost someone dear to her as well.