[Reader-list] Media romanticizing rapists

nisha - mirzachhotoo at yahoo.co.in
Thu Jun 24 16:15:46 IST 2004


This is regarding two articles published in Kolkata edition of the Times of India on Thursday, June 24, 2004, page 3 - 'Few minutes that could have saved schoolgirl from murder' and 'Terrible nightmares mingle with fond memories of childhood'. Both articles are related to the death sentence given to Dhananjoy Chatterjee who raped and murdered a 14 year old girl in December 1989. This man was a security guard of the building where his victim lived with her family. The man was supposed to protect her.


In stead of raising the delay in justice to the victim (after all it took nearly 15 years for the justice to be read out by our revered court of law), the first article - 'Few minutes that could have saved schoolgirl from murder' - after saying that if the rapist and murderer’s supervisor were to arrive on the spot a few minutes before he did the girl would have been saved from being raped and killed, it goes on to absolve the rapist cum murderer of his crime and to romanticise the life he could have had. I quote from the news article: 


"And a prisoner inside the condemned cell of Alipore Central Jail — awaiting death on Friday — might have been leading a more normal life in the city, with a wife and children living their lives in Chhatna in Bankura."


In one stroke the article completely shifts the blame from the criminal to the supervisor. The message from the article is that it is the supervisor's fault that the girls was raped and murdered. It is also the supervisor's fault that the 'poor criminal' got an opportunity to commit the crime and not be able to lead a happy 'a more normal life' with his wife and children. They do not say that despite receiving a complaint from the father of the victim, the security agency where this criminal used to work, did not immediately remove him from the job. They do not analyze why did the security agency did not take a complaint of crime against women seriously enough. They do not point out why the supervisor was given a brief only to, I quote: 


"...  give Chatterjee a dressing down and send him elsewhere (to a building in a less-populated locality near Ballygunge Phari)." 


They do point out that the security agency 'was good as its word' tot he father of the victim. It sent the supervisor next day. But it is the supervisor who came a few minutes left.


Are the reporters so naive to assume that this was the first and the only crime this rapist cum murderer would have committed in his life and that he would not have victimized his own family and children? Definitely not. Then, are they romanticizing the 'innate' goodness and moping over the 'harsh' punishment for the 'once in lifetime deviation' by this man? Definitely yes. Reasons for this duality must be publically interrogated.  


The second article - 'Terrible nightmares mingle with fond memories of childhood' - goes beyond the first one in presenting a caring 'personal account of a man who has but hours to live'. It weaves 'fond recollections of a childhood spent in a village' with how the rapist and murderer, or the man in a mood that is, to use the journalist's words, “introspective and sombre” has to be kept occupied with the games like ludo and chess, how he gulped down four cups of tea and did not eat breakfast and how his diary is taking the form of an autobiography. 


Who know, this diary may get published as an autobiography. It may sell copies and more copies and more copies. The criminal will live on, a glorified and romanticized life. Who know, it may inspire some budding Dhananjoys to take the joy out of women and young girls' lives, to take women and young girls' lives and to aspire for two articles devoted to them in the 'country's largest circulating national newspaper'.



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