The Madras High Court came down heavily on Delhi-based media outlets on Tuesday over the lack of priority in covering the sexual assault of a college student in Pollachi that has shocked Tamil Nadu. In scathing remarks against the national media, the court observed that heinous crimes in rural areas were being ignored by these media houses.
Further, Justices Kirubakaran and SS Sundar of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court compared the Pollachi sexual assault case to that of the Nirbhaya case, the brutal rape of a medico in the national capital in December 2012. The court chided the national media for not giving as much importance as the Delhi rape to the Pollachi case.
The court was hearing a PIL from a coconut farmer who had lost his crops during the onslaught of Cyclone Gaja that struck the coastal and delta districts of Tamil Nadu in November last year. The judges made the observation that provision of urban relief was prioritized over rural relief.
It may be recalled that while regional media houses picked up the story of the sexual assault and extortion back in February when the crime came to light, the national media was slow on the uptake.
In the past, the national media has been criticized for not taking up issues in the south as rigorously as events that unfold in New Delhi, Mumbai or places in the north. With most English news channels headquartered in New Delhi, veteran television journalist Rajdeep Sardesai has used the term “tyranny of distance” to explain why news events in the south or in the northeast often go under ‘their’ radar.
Take for instance the Chennai floods in 2015, or the rape and murder of a law student in Kerala, the caste killing of Shankar, a Dalit man in Tamil Nadu, among others. The criticism is that each of these tragedies were taken up by media organisations a little too late or as an afterthought.