This year has undoubtedly been one of the most difficult ones in living memory – mostly due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic which has taken more than 832,000 lives globally. In India too, the number of COVID-19 positive cases is on the rise, while there is no sign of an effective vaccine yet.
However, the Indian media seems to be occupied less about Coronavirus and more about Rhea Chakraborty who was dating the late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Television debates and sensationalised headlines on the young actress, who has been put on trial by media related to Rajput’s death for more than a month now, has conveniently taken over the more pressing matter of public health and safety. It has even derailed the conversation on mental health - one which we cannot postpone, especially with the pandemic and economic crisis affecting people across classes.
Although there is an online troll army with a propaganda against Chakraborty, not all netizens are part of this Rhea-berating bandwagon. In fact, many are taking an effort to bring the focus back to the more relevant issues – including journalists like Rana Ayyub and Rohini Singh, and anti sex-trafficking activist Sunita Krishnan.
Rhea Chakraborty says she has contemplated suicide. Given the media trial and the witchunt where she has been called a gold digger, vishkanya, slut, murderer, drug addict by a lynch mob, if she actually tries to harm herself, will the CBI indict these vile media outlets?
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) August 28, 2020
In India families rarely hold their sons accountable. It will always be his wife who would be blamed for the son not being attentive enough. It’s also always the girlfriend. ‘She controls him’ is often repeated. Ours is essentially an anti woman society #RheaChakraborty
— Rohini Singh (@rohini_sgh) August 29, 2020
When a premiere police outfit and other agencies are diligently doing their duty regarding the suicide of an actor why is the media also running a parallel investigation?
— sunitha krishnan (@sunita_krishnan) August 27, 2020
Author and student activist Gurmehar Kaur, who was at the receiving end of online harassment in 2016 for advocating peace between India and Pakistan, also shared her views on Rhea Chakraborty’s situation:
Watching Rhea in those interviews, vulnerable and trying to put on a brave face reminded me same witch hunt, vilification, twisting of lies, being reduced to Prime Time news entertainment when I was 19. My heart goes out to Rhea Chakraborty and her family. This too shall pass.
— Gurmehar Kaur (@mehartweets) August 27, 2020
Veteran journalist Faye DSouza were among those who asked the most significant questions:
I don’t understand why there isn’t more coverage and conversation around India’s covid outbreak? Are we bored? Fatigued? What is it? pic.twitter.com/79cEmZyWjj
— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) August 29, 2020
Today, India recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases that any country has ever recorded on a single day since the start of the outbreak. But "news" channels are analysing acronyms in WhatsApp messages.
— 🍒 (@QuilledWords) August 27, 2020
Exhausted with the irresponsible journalism spreading roots in India, actor Richa Chadha made a hard-hitting statement:
I studied to be a journalist and throughly enjoyed it! But never have I been gladder that I chose to be an actor instead. Imagine working with these constipated, unhappy, spineless, ugly, high-functioning sociopaths who occupy most news rooms today. pic.twitter.com/LZvRAqASd3
— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) August 27, 2020
Another issue that seemed to have been ignored by the media was the clash between civilians and the police in Srinagar, during a Muharram procession. Award-winning photojournalist Masrat Zahra shared heart-breaking images from the incident:
— Masrat Zahra (@Masratzahra) August 29, 2020
On the other hand, Indian Twitterati – along with their global counterparts – mourned the death of 43-year-old actor Chadwick Boseman, who was the first Black man to play the role of a super hero, in Black Panther (2018).
This year’s been so hard. What a tragic loss of a remarkably gifted talent. Chadwick, you fought a silent battle, all while giving us some of the most inspiring films of the last few years. Your legacy will live on forever. My thoughts & prayers are with his family & loved ones. pic.twitter.com/lcc3JsFJyh
— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) August 29, 2020
During his commencement speech at our beloved Howard, my friend Chadwick Boseman said, "press on with pride and press on with purpose.”
In his name, let’s keep fighting. pic.twitter.com/HU8Q6yQaJ4
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 29, 2020