Strong protests, mostly led by women devotees erupted around the Sabarimala temple, following a Supreme Court judgment that lifted restriction on entry of women including those within the age group of 10-50 years. The media outlets have however don’t seem to have realized this tense situation and have aggravated it further leading to dangerous events that unfolded yesterday. By sending women journalists to cover the protests that have been staged in the temple area, these media outlets and news channels only further irked the protesters.
The protesting devotees reportedly attacked four journalists who had been sent to cover the protests. A reporter from The News Minute (TNM) and another from the Republic TV were brutally attacked by the protesters while they were in Nilakkal. TNM reporter Saritha S Balan’s vehicle was surrounded by the protesters and the police had to rescue her and on her route to the station, she was again attacked by the protesters. Republic TV’s journalist Pooja Prasanna and her crew were also attacked. They were beaten with sticks when they were inside a police van and stones were hurled at them from outside. CNN-News 18 has stated that protesters surrounded the car in which reporter Radhika Ramaswamy was travelling. It said in a report, “They tried to pull her out, attacked the car, broke the window panes and hit the vehicles with sticks. The goons also vandalized the camera equipment that the crew was carrying.” Similarly, NDTV reporter Sneha Mary Koshy and camera person SP Babu were also attacked.
This only corroborates that this act of sending women journalists to cover the issue only further enraged the angry protesters. This is both stupid and dangerous. The news channels and media outlets must not be naive enough not to realize the gravity of the situation. It, therefore, seems that the channels had intentionally sent women journalists to cover this issue in order to improve their TRP ratings and sensationalize the entire issue. This is nothing more than a cheap source of publicity.
The state government had already angered the protesters by trying to forcibly implement the apex court order without taking the devotees into confidence or finding a solution to the tense situation. The Communist government in Kerala insulted the will of the local people by blatantly and insensitively ignoring their traditions, faith and beliefs. And now, the news channel have shown utter disregard towards the feelings of the locals and the protesting devotees. The act of intentionally sending women journalists, so that they could enter the shrine today along with other women was a cheap way of publicity. This was not only condemnable and cheap but also dangerous.
The media outlets had sent women journalists in anticipation of better TRP ratings and viewership in the hope that this will sensationalize the tense situation in the temple area. However, they did not care for the safety of their own reporters. The women journalists who were attacked had been exposed to such attacks by these media outlets and news channels only in hope that this will sensationalize the entire issue. They not only added fuel to the protest by exacerbating the anger of protesters but also placed at peril, their women reporters. One can only hope that news channels will be careful in future and never resort to cheap tactics only in order to achieve better TRP ratings.
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