Surviving a media trial: The story of Disha Salian’s family

The coverage of Disha Salian’s death showed Indian news channels at their unethical worst. It also maligned and devastated a family grappling with tragedy.

ByPrateek Goyal
Surviving a media trial: The story of Disha Salian’s family
Shambhavi Thakur
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Sometime after midnight, or what would later be described in news and police reports as the intervening night of June 8 and June 9, 2020, actor Rohan Rai found himself in his 12th-floor apartment in Malad, standing at a window, telling himself to jump. He, his fiancée and a group of their friends had been partying since the night before. It had begun as a belated birthday celebration, which then unspooled into a cheerful, boozy get-together – a novelty after months of lockdown.

No one could have imagined that the party would end with Rai looking down at the dead body of his fiancée. At the time, he was convinced that this moment was a messed-up, alcohol-induced hallucination. He told himself that he just needed to snap out of it.

“I still remember I stood on that window and I thought that I should also...” Rai, 31, couldn’t finish the sentence. Instead, he gestured with his hand to indicate throwing oneself. Once, twice. “This is just a dream. Mein kood jaunga toh dream toot jayega [If I jump, then I’ll wake up from the dream] and I’ll be with her,” said Rai, breaking eye contact and looking away. “But I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the strength to do it.”

It wasn’t a dream.

The body of his fiancée Disha Salian, sprawled on the ground, 12 floors below, was real. For Rai and Salian’s family, the nightmare had just begun.

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