Bangalore Mirror began the New Year with a bang by shaming the IT city. `Bengaluru’s Night of Shame’ screamed the lead headline with pictures of girls and women being mobbed spread for visual impact in case the headline did not sting you bad enough.
Mirror also front-paged people like actors Ragini Dwivedi and Sanjana Galrani, Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, fashion designer Manoviraj Khoshla and TV Mohandas Pai, Infosys ex-CFO. They had, like instant noodles or instant coffee, instant comments without knowing what happened and believed the Mirror version and without, probably, knowing that the paper was not mirroring the truth.
Very soon, Times Now picked up the story and internationalized it calling it Bengaluru’s Horror. Their reporter thrust the mike down the throat of guffaw-prone Home Minister G Parameshwara to get a few spicy bytes. And he said something that he did not mean to say and Times Now said everything that he did not mean to say. Then, after Bengaluru, he got shamed too.
The police said they had footage of all that happened and were ready to provide it to the media. They asked the media to give any new footage if they had one. Nobody stepped forward to check the CCTV footage collected by the police from the MG Road, Church Street and Brigade Road areas and report the truth. The media could not provide and new telling or new evidence either.
But the scream on Mirror and TimesNow got sharper and shriller.
Yesterday, The Times of India played a story headlined THE MASS MOLESTATION THAT WASN’T?
HOW A PANIC WAS CREATED ABOUT BENGALURU’S SAFETY.
Yes, it was in all caps so that you did not miss out on the story as it was tucked away on an inside page. Unlike Mirror, the headline did not scream out on front page.
The story went on to say:
So what happened on New Year’s Eve, and what does it say about Bengaluru? A TV journalist who says he was on Brigade Road till 1.45am, blogged that “there was no mass physical molestation“ but both men and women were harassed. Strikingly, nobody in the MG Road-Brigade Road incident has filed an official complaint so far. The police have scoured footage from the 40 CCTVs at the junction, but been unable to identify any incident of molestation. Does this mean no sexual assault occurred?
“Such a thing could indeed have happened in a city of 10 million people, but it would be a great disservice to say there were mass molestations,” says Bengaluru city police commissioner Praveen Sood.
India’s public spaces are clearly hostile to women, its crowds even more so. “But this not a city-specific issue, it is crowd-specific. In such situations, crowds lack identity and social control,“ says A Narayana, professor of politics and law at Azim Premji University .
Now to the final point: Bangalore Mirror, Times Now and The Times of India belong to the same group. And they had three stories to tell about the same incident.
So, ladies and gentlemen, what is the truth?
It is a three lettered word. TRP.