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The North-east is shamed once again! The alleged murder of Sheena Bora involving her mother, wife of a media tycoon, brought back the ‘limelight’ the region got during the GS Road molestation case in 2012. The open molestation of a teenage girl by public allegedly instigated by some TV crew who were shooting the incident caused national outrage in 2012. This time again, it is another shameful incident of a mother killing her own daughter that brought the city of Guwahati to national media. The complicated crime thriller like incident has generated so much interest that national channels have given preference to this news than the volatile situation in Gujarat. Curfew in several towns, death of at least nine people on a single day and burning of public buses by protesters demanding reservation were not enough to get the top media attention. The media coverage Assam failed to get even after over 11 lakh people being affected by floods in the past one week was ‘achieved’ by the dead girl from Guwahati.

Outcome of the Sheena Bora murder investigation may have impact on very few people, but the nature of the crime involving celebrities caused the craze to know more about it. Undoubtedly, this case will lead to many a gossip in the high society as well as those who were the past of Indrani Mukherjea, the alleged murderer, and her present husband Peter Mukherjea, former CEO of Star India and founder of News X channel. People knowing them from close quarters and even from distance will try to explore the possible reasons of the murder. They will try to recollect their memories about the family during the time of alleged murder in Mumbai on April 24, 2012. Everyone will try and do their own investigation. Sheema’s former classmates and friends would once again talk about the ‘forgotten’ girl.

In the light of the above, should we still call media the fourth pillar of democracy? There is no denial that Sheema’s alleged murderers should be booked and punished. But, should there not be a limit to giving space to this incident involving, so far, just a family by the national media? The national media have become so local that they have little space to cover the growth rate of Muslim population in Assam, highest in the country. But a single incident of a girl being ‘misbehaved’ on a traffic signal of Delhi consumes Prime Time hours for days together. The mindset of Indian public also needs to change in order to change the media behaviour. The game of TRP and advertisement has always driven the media coverage. Once public starts paying more attention to real issues affecting lives, media too will change their colour.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on August 28, 2015)

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