Indian society which was formed on the values of democracy is witnessing a complex dilemma over the very components which serve its foundation. Democracy is not practically realized until and unless one is not free to secure one’s reputation in the society. The very same relationship exists between democracy and the notion of freedom to information and awareness. Taking these two ideas forwards we can visualize a society where the democratic statutes works at its best. But in the recent days we have been failed to do so. The state that we have transferred a part of our sovereignty in order to safeguard our collective security has proved itself incapable and ineffective. But the worst part comes when the very state tries to question and doubt the existence of other pillars of democracy.
On 27th May, two Dalit girls of Badaun District in Uttar Pradesh were allegedly gang raped by some local goons. The girls were assaulted and hanged from a tree. Newspapers followed the story with criticisms of administrative inefficiency. After few days on 31th May the newspapers reported a rape committed by four people against a minor soul in the district of Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. With many more incidents of rape reported in a row the administration of Uttar Pradesh went red with shame. But what was given in the backdrop of all this was not an assurance (which was much needed) from the CM Akhilesh Yadav but a bundle of excuses which attacked the role of media and press in the society. He alleged media to be acting irresponsibly by reporting the rape incidents in the state with an overemphasized tone. Some of the supporters cum intellectuals abiding by the very same ideology came up with harsher attacks on press and its reporting. They easily poured the responsibility of destabilized law and order on the head of Reporters and journalists. According to them, media by reporting rapes in the newspapers and televisions perpetuated the rape incidents in UP. Few days ago I heard a socially concerned friend of mine according to whom the increased rapes and sexual assaults are the residue of free Press. I heard him carefully for the sake of my belief in freedom of expression though on the lines of ideas he was far intolerable for me. With administration on its foot how legitimate it would be to hold media reporting responsible for increased rapes in several regions. This might be a political stance from the supporters of Yadav regime in Uttar Pradesh but is imposing a serious discourse on the role of media played in UP.
I am taking this view (of CM as well as of my friend) as an assault on the complete idea of democracy. By reporting the crimes related to women, media in place of harming the society actually provides an impetus to the social consciousness. Information and awareness of the crime incidents instills two types of feelings among the people. Firstly, it prepares the public anger against such deeds and actions. Civil societies, which are present as inseparable part of the democratic superstructure, can be the strongest tool if used in the fight against ‘Rapes’ and ‘Sexual Assaults’. Can we imagine the incidents of rapes and sexual assaults out in the social arena without media? Can we imagine the construction of common anger and resistance in the society against these crimes without any awareness in the civilians? If we place our thought process on this line we could perceive that reporting of rapes are in no way against the interest of the society. Secondly, media by reporting these incidents prepares a moral pressure on the administration for solving the cases as well as in wiping away the administrative loopholes. This might be the reason why the political bosses usually criticize the role of media in reporting the rape incidents. No government wants itself and its administration under the critical analysis of the society. These are the reasons for hit and kill relationship between media and the administration (especially in the case of Uttar Pradesh Government).
When any institution or an individual comes forward to hold journalism responsible for increasing rapes, we must take note of certain qualitative things. On the preliminary glance this stance proves the role of media as a perpetuator of rapes and sexual assaults. If this is so, then it means that it is an attack on the freedom of information and awareness. By curbing the media it is perceived that the present mistakes could be washed away. This is what we saw in Uttar Pradesh and will be seeing in many more regions in near future. Akhilesh regime tried its best to demoralize the role of media and reporters through his statements just in order to save his inefficient administration from the wrath of public anger. This is an assault not on media but on democracy itself. On the other hand when the government is incapable to provide good governance and secure environment it is automatically defaming the democratic structure of the nation. And this double assault on the democratic ideas is the decline of social freedom. What could make one believe on the role of media as a perpetuator of rape may only be his faithfulness to the anti-democratic ideals or ultra-conservative ideas. It is democracy where people must know the moment when humanity was killed. It is important in order to save the humanity itself. I must conclude on my statement that reporting of rapes aims at creating a resistance not a platform.