Several journalists, writers and activists such as Mohammed Zubair, Disha Ravi, and Jairaj Singh, as well as actors like Swara Bhasker and Richa Chadha, called out mainstream national media outlets, especially television news channels, for their extensive coverage of the arrest of actor Shah Rukh Khan‘s son Aryan Khan in a drug probe even as violence broke out in Uttar Pradesh killing nine, after four protesting farmers were run over by a minister’s son.
Zubair pointed out that AajTak‘s Twitter handle shared 27 tweets of Khan’s arrest and only made space for one tweet about the violence amidst the ongoing farmers’ protest. Singh posted a tweet saying, “13 grams of cocaine > 8 dead”
“Things that should be headlines: BJP Minister’s son killing & injuring protesting farmers, 3000 kg of heroin seized at Adani port, Adivasi women protesting against mines in Hasdeo. Things that shouldn’t be headlines: A Bollywood star’s son caught doing drugs at a party,” Ravi wrote.
On Sunday, severe violence broke out after the son of UP’s Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra ran his car over protesting farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri district and killed four. According to an NDTV report, the farmers, who have been protesting the three farm bills passed by the Parliament since October 2020, said they had assembled to stop the visit of the Union Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Maurya.
Denying claims of his son’s link to the violence, Mishra said his son was not present at the spot. He also said that the farmers “showed black flags and pelted stones on the car, which overturned. Two farmers came under the car and died. Three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers and the car driver were beaten to death by some people.”
According to the farmers’ union, along with the four farmers who died after being hit by the car, six others were injured including Tejinder S Virak, one of the leaders of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella body of the farmers’ union.
The police have also recovered the body of a local journalist, Raman Kashyap, from the spot of the violence. Kashyap was initially listed as a BJP worker.
Following this, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi was detained by the police on her way to the spot of the violence. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav was also detained on Monday after he engaged in a sit-in protest outside his residence when he was stopped from visiting the scene of the violence, as per another NDTV report.
Mainstream media’s coverage of these events have been scarce. However, what has made headlines since Sunday is Aryan Khan’s arrest.
Khan was arrested on Sunday afternoon for alleged possession and consumption of illegal drugs after the Narcotics Control Bureau raided a cruise ship rave party.
The NCB registered a case under several sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, after officers seized 13 gm of cocaine, 21 gm of charas or hashish, 22 pills of MDMA (ecstasy), 5 gm mephedrone, and cash worth Rs 1.33 lakh at International Cruise Terminal, Green Gate Mumbai.
Similar to Ravi’s tweet, The Wire‘s founding editor MK Venu also pointed out the difference in coverage of the NCB’s raid of a cruise party as compared to the news from a couple of weeks ago of three tonnes of heroin, reportedly worth around Rs 20,000 crore, being seized at Gujarat’s Mundra port, which is owned and operated by the Adani group.
Venu’s tweet read: “Just compare the media space (especially TV channels) given to NCB raids on a Mumbai cruise party with that of the single biggest ever heroin haul (3 tonnes valued at over Rs 20000 crore) last month at Mundra port. I leave the rest to your judgement!”