August 9, 2007

Attack on Taslima: Some questions

The attack on Bangladesh writer Taslima Nasrin by an unruly bunch led by three MLAs at a Hyderabad Press Club raises some questions.Extensive visual coverage of the incident was possible because of the media presence in strength at the scene of violence.

A couple of TV channels went ‘live’, with reporters in the thick of it all giving us a running commentary. The camera focused on vandals hurling books, bouquets (used as brickbats), furniture and things at a baffled Taslima. She was being shielded from taking direct hits by a grey-haired middle-aged gent who chivalrously stepped into the line of the missles-throw.

What intrigued me was that the foul-mouthed protestors made no attempt to block the photographers. They went about their vandalism in the full media glare; in utter disregard of the TV presence. This was unusual.It seemed as if they played to the camera. And the crew wouldn’t stop shooting as long as action continued. You may ask why the TV crew couldn’t put aside their camera and go to curb the attackers, instead of capturing their attack on film in graphic details. It’s a question that is easier asked by us than answered by the media persons.

The Taslima book release function was planned to be low key affair, in the presence of a group of invited media persons. Some of them were heard saying that there was no advance announcement of Taslima’s appearance. But trouble-makers apparently knew enough to mobilize a strike force. The police, on the other hand, appeared blissfully unaware, till after the attack started. Question is, how come the intelligence people didn’t know or didn’t alert the police.

Read in the papers the next morning that the assailants were charged, arrested, produced in court and freed on bail. And the visiting Bangladesh writer was whisked away by the police under security escort to the airport and put on the first available flight to Kolkata, where Taslima is living in exile.

1 comment:

Abraham Tharakan said...

I had read the report, but hadn't thought of the angle you have focused - the vandals seem to have been playing to the camera.

I believe that three of protesters are MLAs. It was a disgrace to the country and to the Constitution.

All true Indians should feel 'lejja' at this exhibition of rowdyism.