Yakub hanging: Dial 100 for another Emergency?

Vikram Kilpady
Vikram KilpadyJul 31, 2015 | 15:36

Yakub hanging: Dial 100 for another Emergency?

Some 30 days after politicians of the anti-Congress kind came together and slapped their collective backsides that the Emergency will never recur in India, the media did a splendid blackout job with photos of the funeral of the 1993 Mumbai blasts hanged convict Yakub Memon. Apparently, the Mumbai Police had "ordered" that pictures of the procession or the body of the hanged convict not be taken or shown citing public order and what not. While Mumbai Police was well within its jurisdiction to issue such edicts fearing disorder and mischief, no media outlet dared show the proscribed images (not that photographers in Mahim were defenders of freedom of the media to report what they wished to and how they wished to). Is there such a Mumbai Police advisory or order or was it another subtle word-of-mouth trick to silence the media? If there indeed was an order, was the blackout by the media justifiable? Isn't the question more on the right of the media to report or show what it sees instead of mulching it down to public safety?

In the age of smartphones with more-than-passable video cameras, what's the point of curtailing the fourth estate when each and every man or woman with a smartphone is already taking pictures and videos that showed a neighbourhood turning out for one of their own, albeit convicted of terror links? Photoshop warriors of all kinds are probably preparing their vitriol to cause more damage. If the media had covered it and, okay, objectively, and in violation of the "police order", would not other Indians have seen the grief and the despair here while reading reports of victims' kin venting their justified anger at Dawood Ibrahim, Tiger Memon and the Muslim part of the Bombay underworld for the loss they suffered?

What's the point of awards like World Press Photo where outstanding photos are taken at the risk of the lives of the photographer amid very trying conditions in the face of violence and dictatorships both by the military and by the left or right wing of any crevice of the world? (What's the point of unity of the press now that all stand divided as products in a market with only the fittest breaking even, the more noisier one making noises only for continued relevance and not for change.)

The Emergency is here and we live in it, fearing trolls, fearing taking pictures which will make hanged convicts martyrs because the state tells us we will end up doing so.

For all one knows, smartphone-wielders in front of televisions or in Mahim have already twisted it out of context with bright MS Sans in orange or green, sketching an accusatory conspiracy, some more fuel to the ever-charged tinder of communal unrest. The fear is not to be confused with political correctness; that is not the concern.

Imagine if Truman Capote had thought the same of the Kansas killers, will In Cold Blood not continue to find place in all-time non-fiction bestsellers? That's a crime, this a terror attack some will say. That's all they do, say, counter and talk of flying aeroplanes when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

The media will crow from the rooftops how sweet it was that Yakub got several late chances at mercy with his lawyers moving the Supreme Court well into the night and how the judges sat up and heard it. Yes, they heard the pleas but the state had already decided Yakub must hang for them.

Yet it will not allow the people of India to see the mourners in the funeral procession for Yakub. And the media buys it. Did someone say the Emergency will not occur again? Doesn't look like it has to, given the exemplary behaviour of the media on July 30, 2015.

Last updated: August 01, 2015 | 14:57
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