On 22 April a farmer Gajender Singh committed suicide hanging himself from a tree when Aam Aadmi Party Rally against Land Bill was going on at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal was addressing the farmers. Gajender Singh died in the hospital the same day and all political parties created a hue and cry, blaming each other. The television media took it as an issue worth investigating, trying to find out if the whole incident was just a one act play organized by AAP that went wrong. No one bothered to report why, inspite of tall claims of governments in implementing schemes for the poor to uplift them economically; the poor of the country are forced to take such steps.
Next day again, dirty politics was at its best on all news channels. Political parties had come out on the roads, burning effigies, facing the water cannons of police and making the TV cameras face them.
Television news channels were busy for days carrying out extensive debates at their highest pitch and emotional outbursts were on display at their best, as if the fourth pillar of democracy had finally taken over the reins of the country and now, the justice lay in its hands. Some of the news teams even reached the remote village in Rajasthan where Gajender Singh lived and did the story of his life and how he suffered as a farmer.
If one observed these stories very closely and paid attention to the remarks of channel heads and Chief Editors, one could sense they all had an agenda behind what they were speaking. This agenda was not to favour the public but to show their alliance with one political party or the other.
It is really sad to see how impotent and vulnerable our media is. Its hollowness is revealed once we examine another similar case in Amritsar where a cable operator committed suicide in an ongoing seminar attended by many judges, from session court to Supreme Court, eminent lawyers and media persons. Like t he Aam Admi Party rally, here too the seminar carried on as usual after Jaswinder Singh ‘Jassi’ consumed poison and was taken to the hospital, where he died a day later.
Jaswinder Singh decided on end his life in a similar manner as done by the farmer at the Jantar Mantar. Both of them were fed up with the apathy of the government towards the cause of poor people and ending their lives in public, wanted to expose the hollowness of claims made by the Central as well as the State government in introducing inclusive growth and helping the poor. Both the suicides took place in front of VVIPs in large gathering, where the desperation of the Aam Aadmi Party came to the fore.
Sadly in the farmer’s case debates and blame game was carried out by all news channels round the clock, involving all political parties and eminent journalists; some blamed Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party for inciting Gajender Singh to commit suicide and some blamed Modi Govt for its controversial land bill. However in case of Jaswinder Singh, except a few local newspaper with very limited viewership, no one carried the news, no one discussed his suicide note and no one even mentioned the incident in brief.
The whole nation within hours knew what was going on in New Delhi, but no one talked about the suicide in Amritsar, that was blamed by Jassi on the politically connected MSO who has a total monopoly in Punjab. Only a few cable operators shared the video of the suicide among each other on social media. TV channels were either too scared of losing their viewership in Punjab or they were in connivance with the MSO to wipe out LCOs from the business. This is what makes one believe, how impotent is our media that is ruled by people who work only for their vested interests. News is hyped or blocked depending on how much it affects the business.
Human Rights Commission of Punjab had to hold press conference to tell the world what happened in front of 14 eminent judges present in the seminar at Amritsar. Even that news did not go beyond a few local newspapers. Not even the trade magazines, except Cable Quest gave the details of the suicide, fearing blockage of advertisements from the MSOs and broadcasters.