Monday, July 28, 2008

Democratic Journalists League

Google Groups
Subscribe to Democratic Journalists League
Visit this group

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The murder of Faith and Relation.

54 days passed. A girl and house servant was brutally killed. The media wake up with all its tantrum. They tarnish the childhood. They tore the relations. They burnt the faith of line. An overall they become a seeker of deadly unbaked information. Some people ask questions regarding the coverage. Some enjoy the follow up. An English media channel done a survey.

Media Yug is providing you the details published by the channel.

Courtesy: CNN-IBN,

Arushi-Hemraj murder: India gives its verdict


QUESTION EVERYTHING: CNN-IBN's Sagarika Ghose moderates the discussion
on the findings of The Arushi Poll.
Over the last month, the murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl Arushi
Talwar and her domestic help Hemraj has captured public imagination.
The case goes to the heart of India's middle class society and raises
several troubling questions.

What is the nature of contemporary media -- Has it ceased to be
absolutely responsible? What is the nature of the police force -- Is
it unable to investigate modern crime? What about the relationship
between employees and employers -- Has that broken down with the
household? And what about parents and children -- Do they inhabit
completely different universes now?

An Outlook-CNN-IBN Exclusive Opinion Poll tried to gauge the public
mood on the murder case. Over a thousand respondents from six cities
took part in the survey.

CNN-IBN conducted a special show to reveal and discuss the findings of
the poll. The panel comprised of former IPS officer Kiran Bedi;
Editor-in-Chief, Outlook magazine, Vinod Mehta; a close friend of the
Talwars, Masooma Renalvi; clinical psychologist Dr Nishreen Saif
Poonawalla; Editor, Marie Claire magazine, Shefalee Vasudev, RJ, Radio
Mirchi, Saurabh; and Editor-in-Chief, IBN7, Ashutosh.

Media Sensationalism: Has the media sensationalised the Arushi murder case?


Yes: 77 per cent

No: 23 per cent


Yes: 67 per cent

No: 33 per cent

Masooma Renalvi, who's been very critical of the media, initiated the
discussion by pointing out even though media played an important role
in the Arushi Talwar murder case, it went way beyond reporting the
facts. She accused the media of reporting wrong facts and
sensationalizing the case.

"In the first week," she said, "media showed the photographs of
Talwars' brother and his wife as Arushi's parents. As for
sensationalizing the case, a few days ago, a tabloid performed a
lie-detector test on Dr Nupur Talwar and published the transcript. The
next day, a TV channel dramatized the test. Dr Nupur, however, told us
that the nothing mentioned in the transcript was true."

But there have been many instances — such as the O J Simpson case in
the US and the Madeleine McCann case in the UK — where the media
played a vital role.

Vinod Mehta, however, took a slightly different stand. He said there
have been cases where the media has gone overboard. "I accept the fact
that media is in the business of selling but sometimes we have to ask
ourselves is there a laxman rekha here?" he asked calling for
self-imposed restrictions.

Shouldn't the Talwar family, then, have been more forthcoming with the
media? Shouldn't they have given the right version to the media?

Renalvi defended that initially the Talwar family didn't talk to the
media because they were told by the police not to do so, lest they
hamper investigations. "They are a normal middle class family who are
not used to criminal investigation or the media. The media was writing
about on the basis of the information leaked by the police while the
family was still obeying the orders of the police. They started
speaking out only after realizing that the whole thing had turned
against them," she said.

When Nupur Talwar gave interviews to media channels, there was a
counter-productive reaction to that. There was a feeling that she
wasn't grieving enough. In that sense, was it wise for her to come on

"It was a period of mourning and grief for the Talwars," Shefalee
Vasudev replied. "The family responded in a very haphazard, bizarre
way — they were, as Masooma said, misled by certain advice and they
were not able to handle the crazy media attention. It's hardly a case
of accusing Dr Nupur Talwar. She lost her only child."

Role of the Media: Will the role of the media directly or indirectly
interfere with investigation and justice?


Yes: 69 per cent

No: 31 per cent


Yes: 71 per cent

No: 29 per cent

Ashutosh pointed out that it was unfair to target TV media alone as
there were many lead newspapers too which carried stories related to
the Arushi Talwar as the lead almost every other day for a month.

He also underscored the need to not look at the Talwar family as the
victims. "Let's not try to gain sympathy for the Talwars. According to
the Noida police, they are the prime suspects in the case and till
this day even the court has not granted them bail," he said.

Renalvi clarified that she wasn't trying to garner sympathy for the
family. "My point was that media reports had factual errors and that
the case was sensationalized. Media cannot assassinate the character
of a murdered girl till the investigation is going on," she said.

One of the police officers, who was transferred, said that police and
media are in partnership in crime investigation. But whatever the
media does, at the end of the day, does it focus unnecessary attention
on a case?

Kiran Bedi replied that Arushi's murder was a very simple forensic
case. "Had there been a police officer who knew how to handle media
and the crime scene well, he could have kept the media completely out.
All he needed was a yellow tape around the crime scene, saying do not
cross the line."

Police and Media: Is the police department out of sync with today's
world and therefore does not understand the mindset of the common

Yes: 70 per cent

No: 30 per cent

Bedi said that even though the Noida Police were being bullied, they
shouldn't have given into media pressure. "They shouldn't have like
CBI. CBI is taking its time — they may or may not be able to solve the
case. The truth is, you can't solve every case because sometimes the
evidence is simply not there," she said.

Bedi also highlighted the need for professional public relation
managers for the police department. "Not everyone is a communicator,"
she said and added, "Why should the IGs or the DGPs be handling the

But when the police mention things like 'honour killing' or 'immoral
e-mails', doesn't that indicate a lack of cultural preparedness, that
they cant deal with urban, modern criminality?

Vasudev disagreed with the statement. "There are a lot of policemen
from urban areas and they have completely rural mindsets. I think the
question we should be asking is whether the police are culturally
programmed to the changing urban scenario? But which one of is
constantly culturally programmed?" she asked.

Terming it as insensitivity at its peak, Bedi said, "Public is equally
insensitive of police issues, inadequacies, and police is becoming
insensitive about public issues. Now is a case of mutual insensitivity
and both are feeding into each other and both are losers."

But how can a police officer, who's in charge of the case, get the
name of the girl and date of the crime wrong?

Pinning the blame on absence of communication skills, Bedi answered
the police officer was overwhelmed. She said the police officers are
just not used to reaching out to the media.

Ashutosh, however, emphasised on the need for the problem to be the
solved from the top. "Most small-town police officers will obviously
be baffled if they are suddenly confronted with 100 cameras. Noida
Police should not be judged on whether or not they got the name right
or wrong. The Home Ministry should ensure that they are trained and
provided proper exposure," he argued.

Have you done police verification of your domestic help?

Yes: 11 per cent

No: 89 per cent

Does the rather dismal percentage indicate that even though the
relationship between the employer and the employee is rapidly
changing, somewhere the employers are not able to come to terms with

Dr Nishreen Saif Poonawalla replied that the trend was indicative of
India's changing culture. "Earlier the domestic help used to be
someone you grew up with," she said.

Saurabh, however, asked whether verifying a domestic help ensured that
the candidate does not have criminal inclinations.

Bedi agreed with Saurabh and said," Beyond the verification, we have
to keep watch. If your staff is being visiting by the wrong people,
shouldn't you keep a watch as the master? If he's getting into bad
habits, should you not know? Verification is no proof that a person's
conduct will be good."

Does the older generation understand what the youth of today feels or wants?

Yes 52 per cent

No 48 per cent

Vasudev said the transition in the society is happening for every generation.

"There is a cultural gap but we are also squeezing it. There is a
transition at the younger generations' end, at the middle generations
end and also at the older generation who are the mothers and fathers
of the parents of today. There is a deep pull and push. It is not
going to be resolved by understanding mobile phones and SMSs only,"
she added

Mehta blamed the broken family for the tragic murder of Arushi and
said parents have lost the art of communication

"A silver lining in this horrible Arushi murder case is that it has
opened our minds to how in post-liberalisation India family life in
middle class and upper middle class has broken down. It is largely
because parents are unable to communicate with their children and they
are unable to communicate not because they don't want to communicate
but they don't know how to communicate," the Editor of Outlook said.

Poonawalla agreed with Mehta and said, "When we say spend quality time
with your kids, parents say define quality time. 'What does that mean?
Watching TV together?' It has disintegrated to such an extent that
people don't know what communication is? We really need to bridge that
gap quick and fast."

Renalvi argued that Talwar family was not a broken one as it is being
made out to be.

"Arushi was a very close friend of my daughter and I have known her
for nine years. I also saw her relationship with her parents. I can
tell one thing that communication had not broken down between Arushi
and her parents. Giving the digital camera and discussing where to
have the birthday party shows what a close-knit family it was. It was
not a dysfunctional family as it was made out. It was a very caring
family," she said.

Ss should parents be vigilant on their children and about their
company and activities?

"Being alert, watchful and vigilant is anyway our duty. But also allow
space to the child. There should be balanced parenting," Bedi said.

Does this case show how deeply in transition Indian society is in?

"It has shown us the face of media - both good and bad. There has been
tenacity in media. It has churned and spun public opinion a great
deal. The roles of family, police, verification, and security issues
all have been raised. This case held up a mirror in many ways to us,"
Vasudev said.

Ashutosh argued that the no one should jump to conclusion and blame
the domestic helps for the crime.

"Can there be a story more sensational than where the father is a
suspect? The unfortunate thins is that we have assumed that the
domestic helps - the Krishnas and the Rajkumars - are the real
killers. We are trying to give a certain benefit to Dr Rajesh Talwar.
The point is as Massoma Renalvi is saying that is was a very well knit
family and had no communication gap, they why was Arushi killed? There
was something wrong in that family. There was something wrong in that
house. It is not a black and white story. It is a grey story. There
are a lot of grey shades, in that family, in that house and also in
the media," he said.

Bedi wanted everybody to be more sensitive when a crime takes place.

"The message of this case is people, the media and the police all
three must get sensitive to the value of preserving a crime scene.
They must not trample over it. The people, the media and the police
all destroyed the forensic evidences at the crime scene. If a crime
happens we must stay away and let the police do its job if we want the
culprits to be caught," the former IPS officer said.

Mehta added, "For me the moral of this story is for parents that if
you don't have the time, don't have children. If the domestic help is
going to look after the children, it is criminally irresponsible to
have children. If you cannot devote time to them be like me and keep a

Saurabh, speaking for the younger generation, said, "Kids need
information and there are many sources available. The dialogue has to
be there between parents and kids."

Are Indian parents aware enough to seek counselling?

Poonawalla said, "Counselling if done correctly with the right
personnel can do wonders. It can save a family, a broken marriage or a
broken relationship. It is the duty of parents to seek counselling."

Should the family be seen as victims?

"I will say as a parent that I would like the truth to come out. All
of us would like to know the truth. Media is playing an important role
and this information will come to us only through media. Media is a
pillar of democracy. What we need is sensitive and sensible reporting.
We need safeguards in media where there is some accountability. Lets
have the truth out and let us have an accountable media," Renalvi

Shefalee said, "Had it not been the media many issues would have not come out."

Ashutosh gave the final comment. He said, "This is one case that has
hurt us because this is the first crime of new India."

Send your write-ups on any media on ""
For Advertise Email us: