August 11, 2007

Taslima and the media

Far from condemning their attack on Taslima Nasrin a section of the Urdu media in Hyderabad is reported to have found fault with the three accused MLAs for their alleged failure to cause injury to the Bangladesh writer. An Urdu daily reportedly expressed disappointment that the assailants went into action “with nothing more lethal than bouquets”.

Frankly, I found it hard to take that anyone, notably from the media, could express such sentiments in cold print. A Deccan Herald report cited the Urdu media hitting out at the MLAs for making a hash of it, considering that the police reportedly arrived on the scene some 30 minutes after the event. For the unfamiliar the event refers to the widely televised physical assault aimed at the Bangladesh writer by an unruly group led by three MLAs at a Hyderabad Press Club function to mark the release of Telugu translarion of Taslima’s novel Shodh.

The writer who had to leave Hyderabad in haste under security escort later told Deccan Herald in Kolkata that she had been attacked elsewhere on earlier occasions, but “it was never like that Thursday (assault in Hyderabad)”. Expressing her gratitude to the press Taslima said that if it were not for the media persons at the venue, “I wouldn’t have returned here alive”.

I stand corrected. In an earlier post, based on my viewing of live telecast of the assault, I suggested that the media on the scene was perhaps less enthusiastic about rushing to the rescue of the helpless victim than capturing the attack, blow by blow, on camera. Here is what Taslima told DH interviewer Prasanta Paul: “The photographers could have just clicked on and on as they (assailants) would kill me, but see, they chose to save me”.

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