The coverage of the Hathras case by leading media houses has left a lot to be desired. And let’s be honest, who is really surprised? From in favour of coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death, to to local editions of top newspapers — this is par for the course.
And there’s something to be said for the usual suspects passing on the coverage of the Hathras case, for then we wouldn't be subjected to what Arnab Goswami did on his primetime show on Republic Bharat last night.
A quick recap: A 19-year-old Dalit girl was assaulted and in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, on September 14. She died two weeks later, and the authorities without the consent of her family. The UP police have described the tragedy an to defame the Adityanath government.
And here’s how Goswami summarised it: “manohar kahaniyan”. He was referring to a widely read magazine of yore that was popular for selling fiction stories.
Sadly, he didn’t stop there. Goswami ran a show for an hour and 14 minutes on Republic Bharat that was full of unsubstantiated claims. The show was titled “Hathras mein Shaheen Bagh wali saazish”. The Shaheen Bagh conspiracy of Hathras.
Goswami’s show started off with a rant against “Tak wale” — his signature style of referring to Aaj Tak — about how the rival channel had only shown “one side” of the story.
Republic Bharat’s political editor Aishwarya Kapoor — notorious for leading the channel's around the Jamia shooter in January — then stepped in with an “exclusive”. He produced call records of a mobile number belonging to the victim’s family, and pointed out 104 calls exchanged between the number and one of the accused, Sandeep.
It’s our duty to point out that this wasn't an “exclusive”; Zee News ran the same story on October 5, and India Today too last night.
Goswami took his cue from Kapoor and switched to a Republic Bharat reporter who came in live from Hathras. The reporter interviewed a group of people who claimed to be supporters of the accused in the Hathras case, and she was greeted with slogans like “Arnab Goswami zindabad”.
Perhaps the reporter was as puzzled as the viewers at this point, because she asked why the group was sloganeering. Here’s what one of them said: “Dekhiye seedhi si baat hai, Arnab Goswami zindabaad isliye kyunki yahan pe koi bhi nahi aaya aaropi paksh ka lene ke liye. Keval jabse Republic Bharat aaya hai tabse yaha poori media aayi hai. Unka swaagat karna humara haq banta hai”
To translate: It’s simple, we are raising the slogans because nobody came here to listen to the side of the accused. Since Republic Bharat came here, other media organisations have followed. It is our right to welcome him.
It’s a real feather in Goswami’s cap.
Another person in the crowd told Republic Bharat’s reporter that the victim had been having an “affair” with one of the accused. Goswami leapt into the fray and said, “If we understand this seriously, this is not a matter of rape or gangrape. The family members were against the relationship between the victim and the accused. The question then arises: who beat up the victim?”
He said the case had been given a “political twist”. “The whole matter is turning around in front of our eyes!” he thundered.
Goswami then returned to “Tak wale”.
“Abhi to Tak walo ko yeh batana padega Aishwarya ki saazish me unki bhaagidari kya thi,” he said. “Yeh kaise ho sakta hai ke sacch ko completely totally chupa kar, Vadra parivar ke saath ghul milkar, Dilli me jooth failakar, deshbhar me jooth failakar Uttar Pradesh aur Hathras mein aatank failaane ki clear saazish hai. Yeh to kuch aur hi maamla nikla. Agar yeh sach hai, to ye balaatkaar ka maamla hai hi nahi. Toh yeh samuhik balaatkaar ki baat kahan se aa gayi, ye to kisine manohar kahaniya likhi hai ispar.”
The gist is that “Tak wale” will have to reveal their contribution to this “conspiracy”. How can it be that after hiding the truth, he demanded to know, after “co-conspiring with the Vadra family, after spreading lies in Delhi and around the country, there was a clear attempt to spread terror in Uttar Pradesh and Hathras”.
He reiterated that “this is not even a case of rape, if this is true”. “Then how did this story of gangrape come up? Somebody has clearly written manohar kahaniyan on this.”
This is a new low even for Goswami. The Hathras victim had . The first was to a woman constable on September 19 when she said Sandeep had molested and tried to kill her. The second was on September 22, when she said, for the first time, “When my mother and I went to fetch fodder, Sandeep, Ramu, Luvkush and Ravi of my village raped me, Sandeep then strangled me with my dupatta.”
This statement legally stands as the victim’s dying declaration, which has high evidentiary value as per the law. A look at medical records, accounts of the victim’s relatives, and the Uttar Pradesh police’s handling of the investigation shows the .
Goswami will have you believe this holds no importance, considering he didn’t think it important to bring up on the show even as he dismissed the case as “manohar kahani”.
If you are wondering about the companies that sponsored this show, and allowed it to reach lakhs of viewers, it was Kent RO, Wonder Cement, Flite, Century Ply, LivosinDS and Hicks.
Newslaundry emailed questionnaires to these brands for comment. The story will be updated if a response is received.
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