‘With Bal Thackeray on Life Support, Mumbai braces for violence’. The New York Times in its “Notes from the world’s largest democracy” just could not let go of the opportunity.
But, then, this is what the Indian media has been doing. They positioned their OB vans, and how dare those Shiv Sainiks who had gathered near Matoshree, the Shiv Sena leader’s residence, come in the way of their ‘job’. Their job is not to wait for someone to die. Whenever that is to happen, they will know.
Some of them have complained about being hurt in scuffles. This is what happens when there are crowds. The SS has done far worse, with the people, with media-persons. But in the 90s news channels and their prominent anchors were not celebrities. The people who were beaten, whose offices destroyed were not important people in their scheme of things. What a strange coincidence that Nikhil Wagle, among the few who stood up to Bal Thackeray, is today part of one of these tosh news channels.
I have absolutely no sympathy for Thackeray the politician, and it does not even need to be emphasised. If you’ve been around during the 1992-93 riots, you would know, especially if you went where it mattered. Nor am I one of those “oh, it does not change anything only because s/he is dead/ailing”, although I would accord some respect to privacy. And at least I would not think it terribly funny to pun on his name or crack lame jokes. This is to be expected from people who get their information on timelines and find it easy to just lump along with any smart-ass.
Where were all these people when he was well and thriving? Hitting out at someone who is in a weak situation reveals the weakness of the people commenting. Does anyone recall the grand interviews Balasaheb gave to the media? You should watch some to get an idea about how deferential the media was. To see them today screeching about how his legacy is about violence is a tad bit amusing, not to mention that it states the obvious.
Regarding all this talk about how the sainiks have/will behave and what business they have to converge at his place, did anyone ask why Amitabh Bachchan landed up there? Lest anyone forgets or does not know, Mr. B holds a Sunday durbar at his residence. He comes out to greet his fans. The cops are required. He does this because he wants to reciprocate their love or some such thing. Well, then Mr. Thackeray has his supporters. The police force is needed to handle the situation.
And what exactly is the situation? Why does the media indulge in pre-empt strikes about “violence”? Yes, the sainiks can get excitable and agitated. Think about what happens down South when film stars and politicians have died. There are mass suicides.
Some shops did stay shut. Public transport was slow. Who put the germ of the idea that “something might happen” in the minds of these people? Even if some sainiks did go around asking people to down shutters, the snowballing effect is all thanks to the media and social networking sites.
The worst possible aspect is that they are using Muslim shoulders to fire their empty guns. As always, such ‘protective’ instinct is counterproductive.
There is the violence of the street. And the violence of using the possibility of such violence for one's benefit.