Mid-Day coverage of the TISS rape case

Here is a letter I sent in to the Mid-Day for its problematic reportage on the TISS rape case.

FROM THE MID-DAY WEBSITE:

TISS rape accused was the ‘nicest guy’ in school: Blog

By: A correspondent

Date: 2009-04-23

Mumbai: They may have been accused for raping the TISS student, but friends of Vinamra Soni (21) and Jaskaran Singh Bhullar’s (20) have not given up on them. A friend of the two has floated a blog appealing netizens to give Soni and Bhullar a second chance. The blog titled ‘They din’t do it’ (sic) created by their schoolmate Tarush Agarwal, who studied with the duo in Loyola School, Jamshedpur, requests the public to hear their side of the story before passing a judgment. In his post, Tarush writes: “I will continue to write to defend my best friends, for I firmly believe they could not commit this heinous crime. I would like to mention, Jask, apart from being the bearer of the friendliest, nicest, and cutest guy trophy is also a brother of three adorable sisters and he respects women.” In an e-mail response to MiD DAY, Agarwal who is currently in USA, said, “Through this blog, I want people to know that there could be a different side to the story. I want them to know that Jaskaran and Vinamra are nice boys, who do regular guy-like things, but at the same time have a strong influence of Indian culture.” Tarush also mentions in the post that Soni and Bhullar were in a train when they heard of the case being filed and were consequently asked by their parents to get off the train, wait for them and then surrender to the police.

My letter to Mid-Day:

———- Forwarded message ———-

To: mailbag@mid-day.com

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to your article “TISS rape accused was the ‘nicest guy’ in school: Blog” which appeared on page 5 of your newspaper on April 23, 2009. It seems immaterial whether Jaskaran Bhullar, one of the six accused in a gang rape case, was the ‘nicest guy in school’ or whether he ‘respected women’. Such character affirmations only tilt public opinion in  favour of the six accused. This is especially so since the other accused in the case, Vinamra Soni, whose ‘good character’ is also vouched for by the writer of the blog, has publicly cast aspersions on the victim.

Besides, why is so much space being given to the blog posts of Tarush Agarwal, the best friend of the two accused mentioned above? Why are his opinions being deemed newsworthy? Agarwal has also been quoted as saying that Jaskaran and Vinamra “do regular guy-like things but at the same time have a strong influence of Indian culture”. It is clear from this comment that Indian culture is supposed to imply good, upright behavior and it is insinuated that those who are not Indian, the victim in this case, may be loose, forward and not upright. I find this kind of reporting terribly biased and one-sided and am shocked that you would publish it.

Subuhi Jiwani

7 Responses to Mid-Day coverage of the TISS rape case

  1. Vicky says:

    this is a reply to subuhi, I want to know whether she knows the accused personally? Its what u r reacting with what media has shown you and the people that their friend is in favor of might be innocent and there fault may be their presence at a wrong place at a wrong time. Unless the judgment is over, pls do not post any blog wogs. its a request. on my part, Jaskaran, do u know his family background or him personally. well, i m sure he is innocent and he can never do this and everything will be clear in the coming days as the case moves ahead.
    thanks

  2. subuhijiwani says:

    Dear Vicky,

    Whether or not I know the accused is immaterial. As a member of the public, I am reacting to what is being reported in the mainstream media. My letter to Mid-Day, if you notice, asks about the newsworthiness of comments made by someone who is a friend of the accused. These comments cannot but be biased and I am raising questions about the newspaper’s one-sided reporting.

    Whether or not the accused are innocent, it goes uncontested that they have been held responsible for committing a crime.

    In any case, this is a public and democratic space and as such, allows for the expression of a variety of different opinions — yours and mine. Therefore, I will have to turn down your request.

    Subuhi

  3. Esha says:

    Let us talk about one sided reporting and biased media reports. Every article you have read on the papers and watched on the news have a biased report.

    This country maybe democratic but the media is owned. It provides us bended information.

    And hey subuhi if you were at the wrong place at the wrong time lady, just like some of the boys ( i know them by the way- ateast 2 of them)and our very democratic media was tearing you apart. Some help would always be appreciated from “Friends”

  4. Feminist Fatale says:

    Esha,
    It seems to me the person in the wrong place at the wrong time was the victim not the accused. The accused clearly were not drugged and could have walked away, the victim unfortunately did not have choice.
    Choice is the key word here. And if guilty – and it seems as if they all are – guilty of rape or at least of abetting rape – then one would hope the media does go for them hammer and tongs.
    Thanks Subuhi and others – we need a more vigilant public to also play “watchdog” to the “watchdog” media!
    FF

  5. Mehernosh says:

    It does not seem to me that the so called victim was in the wrong place at the wrong time, why did the victim not return back to the hostel with her friend when she went there to pick up her bags to leave to Darjeeling. Was she not aware that she had already flouted the rules of the hostel by leaving it so late without permission and staying out of the hostel at that unearthly hour. She did mention that she had met 3 boys for the first time. Would an educated girl move about alone with 3 known & 3 unknown boys who were going to get drunk and smoke drugs. Did she not know that she would not be allowed into the hostel after hours, where did she think she would spend the night if not in the hostel. I am sure no girl in her right senses would smoke a joint if she was not habituated or at least used to it. The drugs as stated was bought by her friend, I have been following this case closely and I believe that that there is more to it then what meets the eye. Has anybody done a background check on the girl why are only the boys being flouted by the media. Media needs to remember the psychological scars that would be left on boys if they are being convicted for a crime they have not committed not to mention that at this tender age they are locked up with hardened criminals who would easily have an adverse effect on their mind, Are we trying to do justice to one and in the process paving the way for hardliners to produce 6 more criminals for our society.
    Esha, i agree with you, a little help would go a long way for the boys.

    • Delta says:

      Are you, with your moronic sense of entitlement, saying that a girl who stays out late, smokes and drinks “asks for it”? How sickening and backward can you be? It is not your justification of the accused that angers me, it is your casual and assholish response to the woman’s so called certificate of character that does.

      You, are a bonafide asshole.

  6. This topic is quite hot on the Internet at the moment. What do you pay attention to while choosing what to write about?
    p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

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