Celebrities, Crimes and Media Manipulation

The media flip-flop is far worse than the fresh evidence that is presented in a couple of prominent cases.

Shiney Ahuja and his wife Anupam are reliving the trauma in glossy paper with sepia-toned photographs tracing their happy life that has been mucked up because a maid cried rape.

Today, the media is recording these beautiful moments but holding back on committing because they say the case is sub judice; the ‘victimised’ say it is sub judice. Then, how are they being featured all over the place and, in fact, influencing public opinion?

If the “hard evidence” was ignored, then did the media report on that? The forensic lab is “unreliable”, so the DNA results are false. The cops did not ask for the phone call records, and the maid was talking on the phone when the rape occurred. Her hair and clothes were apparently not dishevelled as stated because the CCTV images show her hair neatly tied up and her dupatta pinned.

So, who is at fault here? The investigating agencies? The doctors? Why did these questions not arise earlier? If the samples have supposedly disappeared now, then who is to blame? The issue is beyond proving innocence.

The more important question is about motive. Why would the maid want to implicate Shiney Ahuja? Because it was one-sided love and she asked him to confess a day before the supposed crime took place? Then she comes to work in underwear with old blood stains and around the time when she claims to be raped she calls up an acquaintance? The neighbours take her to the police station while their maid who has got her this job waits for her downstairs where the cameras reveal that her gait is perfect? The neighbours were not on talking terms with Shiney.

So, are the neighbours culpable? Is the other maid culpable?

The Times of India in its 'view' has this to say after giving us a long report:

Actor Shiney Ahuja’s wife, Anupam, has made startling disclosures about the rape charges that were made against her husband. She has cited strong evidence in Shiney’s favour and has claimed that this evidence was ignored by the court. But since the matter is still in court, we will not comment on the evidence. But we can’t help draw attention to the fact that the actor spent 110 days in jail and his career was disrupted. If he turns out to be innocent, he has already been unfairly punished. False charges of sexual abuse and rape against celebrities are not uncommon. The legal system needs to guard against media hype in such cases and deal clinically with the facts.

If the initial trial was fasttracked, then the actor’s appeal should also be speeded up through the system. It would be a shame if he had to unfairly live with a guilty tag and have his career ruined due to judicial delay.

This is trying to force collective guilt on the public. Shiney Ahuja was not such a big celebrity. His fame has increased after this case. It is precious that TOI talks about guarding against media hype when it was a frontrunner in this business and continues to be. Just to jog memory, two other women did accuse Shiney of inappropriate behaviour. Are these just sound bytes for a vulture media?

The same media that is now giving us details about how his wife, when she was away, broke her karva chauth vrat (women fasting for the husband's long life) via webcam with him is now wondering that the maid used the term atyaachaar, which could mean any sort of torture. So, what was the atyaachaar? That he did not reciprocate her love? Does she recall saying in June 2009, “Rape is a very heinous crime and in today’s time it can be committed not just by a man. Even a woman can do it and we all know”? What validity does it now have when the argument is against rape itself?

Does the media ask for fast-track justice in non-celebrity cases? I would like to know how many cases against celebrities have come before the courts? What happened to the sting operation against actor Shakti Kapoor? He was invited on panel discussions and is spoofed on comedy shows where he also appears as a judge. Is there not the possibility of a flip side where the victim is silenced because of the so-called clout of the perpetrator? Abroad many of these women squeal and make a neat packet, so such misuse of celebrity is common.

Jerome, Neeraj, Maria
This brings us to that other case. Did Neeraj Grover, creative head of an entertainment channel. demand a pound of flesh from Maria Susairaj, an aspiring actress? Or did she willingly have an affair with him? Then, what snapped? Grover was killed; his body cut up in small bits and burned and then dumped in the Manor jungles just outside Mumbai. Maria and her fiancé Emile Jerome, a naval officer, were implicated. It was said then that they made love right there after they had chopped the body and even went out for dinner.

Now, they have different lawyers and are trying their best to protect themselves. Maria’s lawyer, after three years, claims that she is still a virgin and could not be in a physical relationship with Neeraj. Is that the pivot of the argument when 48 witnesses have been examined by the prosecution?

The mall where she went to pick up three sports bags and a knife had the recordings. The cops are being blamed for not noticing the knife earlier and in fact are being accused of planting it there.

I fail to understand what the police get out of framing people in such crimes because Maria had admitted to the murder. She says it is because her siblings were being held and it was a forced confession. Jerome’s lawyer says no one checked if Neeraj was still alive when he arrived from Kochi.

There are several legal loopholes that can be used. If the media wants to give the benefit of doubt to people who are implicated in dastardly crimes, then it should not follow the trail in a vicarious manner to start with. The verdict will be pronounced in both these cases. Irrespective of the outcome, the motives for the accusation or the crime remain unresolved.

Neeraj is dead. Why don’t they talk about a young life being snuffed out? And what about the maid in the Shiney Ahuja case? You won’t see her in the pages of Bombay Times at a party like Shiney did with his wife soon after he got bail. Why is she not being interviewed? In some ways, she is already seen as the guilty party and, fast-track or no fast-track, her life has been derailed forever.

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