Watching CNN IBN last night rudely shocked me. It was a special edition entitled “Domestic Danger (How safe are we?)” and concentrated around the rising crime rate committed by domestic help in Delhi NCR.
For most of the report, CNN IBN did a good job of playing the role of a responsible media house: Precautionary measures we can take like verifying that the servant we are employing is trustworthy, a look across various metros and comparing the domestic crime rate over there with that of Delhi, the housing society stepping in to ensure that all servants are verified, registering the servants with the police etc etc.
Looking at the rising crime rate was truly shocking. But what really knocked me off my bean-bag was the part when CNN IBN showed a quick recap of all the previous crimes committed by servants in the past few months.
[Some of the dates and victims may be inaccurate, because I cannot type as fast as I can read news bulletin]
Feb 27: An old couple robbed by servant after being poisoned.
Mar 18: Servant poisoned husband, wife and daughter.
May 10: Family poisoned by servant and made off with jewelries.
May 13: Woman stabbed to death by servant.
May 24: Two women poisoned by their domestic help.
June 5: Family of four poisoned by their Nepali servant.
June 8: An elderly grandmother robbed by servant of many years.
Tell me which news bulletin is the odd one out?
Yes, all the crimes above were committed by servants, except for one which was committed by a NEPALI servant.
I could literally feel my stomach wrench and my throat tightening when I read that particular bulletin flashing. Seriously, CNN IBN? I expected so much better from you guys.
Was there any need to mention that the servant was in particular a Nepali? Most of us watch the news everyday and we all know he was a Nepali. But when you aggregate all the previous crimes committed in the past and put them together in one single list, was it really necessary to highlight his specific ethnicity?
He may be a Nepali but he’s also a criminal and I seriously hope he’s caught soon. He’s just as bad as the other servants who poisoned/robbed their employers. Why then is there an obvious segregation?
I’m just wondering what CNN IBN was trying to prove with that? Were they giving out a subtle warning to the viewers that Nepalese cannot be trusted? If not, then why include that extra “Nepali” tag before the servant when none of the other servants were segregated according to their regionality? Was it because he was a “foreigner”?
Why does this “minor” misnomer bother me so much? Because here in India it is a known fact that anything done by a Nepali reflects back upon the entire Northeastern community (and vice-versa). People cannot differentiate us and most of the people still think everybody with mongoloid features are all the same, belonging to the same community, speaking the same language, having the same culture and tradition etc etc.
Hardly a year ago, a couple of Mizos were beaten up badly by a crowd at Humayanpur, Delhi. This was no ordinary racial attack that Northeastern people in Delhi had grown accustomed to. It was a case of intentional mistaken identity.
Some Mizo guys were walking home a few Mizo women who had just finished recording/practicing a song for an upcoming Christian fellowship programme. Since it was quite late, around 10pm, the guys volunteered to walk the girls back to their PG which was nearby.
Suddenly, they came across a small mob chasing a guy who the mob later said was a Nepali. He was caught by the residents trying to steal the tyre of a car. As the thief ran past the group of Mizos, the anger of the mob suddenly changed its course towards those Mizos! Not just the guys, even the women were severely beaten up and sexually assaulted.
Some of the girls managed to send an SOS, and Rueben the drummer of Delhi based popular death-metal band IIIrd Sovereign and one of India’s best drummer according to RSJ, and Isaac the vocalist of a popular Mizo band “Rave Vox”, along with a few other Mizos and even a lawyer rushed immediately from Safdarjung enclave to Humayanpur. They too were thrashed the moment they reached.
When the cops finally arrived, they just dispersed the mob amidst the continuous verbal abuses, heavily reprimanded the bleeding Mizos for being there at that time of the night and then drove away!
The mob wasn’t your average uneducated jobless roadside romeos. It comprised of the highly educated intelligentsia of posh Safdarjung/Humayanpur residential area. And everybody could see so clearly that those Mizo men and women had nothing to do with the guy who just ran past them many feet away.
And the same people question why we stick together in our own group. Duh! Obviously because many of us feel much safer among our “own” kind. We don’t create that group out of our own free will; other people force us to build such comfort zones.
That is why I now watch the ongoing Gorkhaland issue with heightened interest and tension. Anything unwise done by those people will definitely rebound back at the entire NE community. Whenever ULFA commits an inhumane crime, a group of Naga students or a Mizo girl traveling on a train is assaulted in the name of retaliation. The media must hence try its best not to sensationalize a particular community when it comes to such crimes.
Likewise, the report by CNN IBN clearly does not help at all. Sure if there was a full complete report about that particular ghastly incident of a servant poisoning his employers, then mentioning about his Nepal background is the truth - That is absolutely normal and digestible. But when you list out all the crimes committed in the past by everybody and make a special mention only about the one committed by a Nepali, even highlighting it prominently as if it is more heinous than other crimes committed by Indians, then I am sad to say CNN IBN is moving towards a very uncertain dark future.
The most ironic twist to this whole edition was when Anjana Bose made a short coverage in that same special edition about the plight of Nepali domestic servants in Delhi. It was an attempt to emphasize the way Nepalis are now labeled as criminals among the Indian society. She interviewed Mahesh, a Nepalese migrant living in a slum in South Delhi, and he spoke about his problems like how difficult it is for him to find a job as a domestic help because of the prejudice. Kudos to Anjana for that eye-opening report. That is good journalism, whereas singling out a crime committed by a particular ethnic group is not.
CNN IBN definitely did try to speak out for the Nepali community. They seemed to ask why the entire community was targeted. One look at the way they themselves gave the report definitely churned out an immediate answer.
I don’t think the Network did this on purpose and maybe they didn’t even notice it, but from the perspective of somebody who’s always been at the receiving end of racial discrimination, this incident definitely stands out and is highly condemnable.