Vantage point

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

About the Kherlanji Pics

Shivam Vij has removed the naked picture. He implies that I wrote the previous post just to score some brownie points over him, but he is removing the post out of respect for others who felt that it was wrong. That a lot of people besides me found it distasteful should be evidence enough that something was wrong with it.

And all these people who found it wrong, are not my "friends" as a couple of people are trying to imply. A couple of people are trying to imply that me and my "friends" are carrying out some sort of a campaign against Shivam Vij to settle old scores. Yes, I admit that there is history between me and Shivam. But that the post was made by him had nothing to do with the intensity of my reaction. And look at who else first found the post distasteful. The early "pioneers" were Greatbong and Confused. While I like reading their blogs and respect them, neither can be termed as my "friend". A lot of bloggers commenting at both their blogs also shared this opinion. A lot of whom I saw for the first time in my blogging life. For instance, Jyothsna, whom I had never read before linked to this excellent article relevant to the issue at hand. In fact none of my Cartelian friends have "rallied around" to support me, and I am glad they haven't. It would have given more fodder to the 2 people hell-bent on painting this as some sort of a witch-hunt rather than a spontaneous outburst of disgust from all sides as it really is.

The outrage I felt was an extension of my disgust at how the Indian media is callous and unconcerned about the privacy and dignity of the dead. And this disregard is seen more acutely when the victim is poor. And the police are accomplices in this. Ever remember the police laying out the bodies of Jessica Lal and Priyadarshini Mattoo for display? And this is a trend common across television, english newspapers, and even regional newspapers. In fact when a well-to-do womaan is raped, you never even come to know her name. No one still knows the name of the Marine Drive Rape victim. And for a good reason. But a Dalit woman's body is suddeny public property?

I have held these opinions very strongly for years, and it is just a matter of coincidence that Shivam Vij, who is the latest mediaperson guilty of the same wrong, also happens to be someone whom I have had public disagreements with. A couple of people are writing post after post, going from blog to blog, talking as if I did it just to settle some score. But I did not. A while back, I thought that I should have foreseen such accusations and maybe desisted from making the post. But most of the time, I am not someone who will mince my words just to avoid baseless allegations.

I found Shivam Vij's post distasteful, and conforming to the cheap attention-seeking, shock-inducing standards that seem to prevail in the Indian media nowadays. In the words of another famous blogger, it "begged to be skewered". And I did it. What happened in Kherlanji was horrific. But I think a post like the one Greatbong made, does what is required to inform people about what happened, and also express outrage over it. He didn't use any macabre pics. His words were strong enough. If two people choose to read too much into it and attribute fictitious motives to me, they can do so. An overwhelming majority of people have however shown sense and are expressing opinions about whether posting the pictures was right or wrong. And maybe it is my bias, but most of them seem to agree that posting the pictures was wrong. It is also borne out by Shivam's decision to edit his post, which I think was a step in the right direction.