news Thursday, February 05, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute Editorial | February 5, 2015 | 6.01 pm IST Nearly a year ago, the Kerala police had cracked down on youth and other people who sported Bob Marley paraphernalia, as it supposedly indicated drug use among them. There was a wave of raids, arrests, and the seizure of all things Marley and Jamaican. The media went overboard with many sermons on morality and drug use among young people. The “morally right” Malayalam news channels (almost all of them) have a very open “anti-marijuana” stand. Malayala Manorama in fact started an official campaign under the name “Pukayaruthe Makkale” (Translates roughly into don’t smoke up dear children).  All the peddlers were very diligently caught by police. “Boys” who were found with marijuana were caught, fined and sometimes jailed. Many months later, two news events have propelled the media and police back to the same track. One is the repeated attacks by Maoists in various parts of Kerala, other is the arrest of a male actor along with three models and one assistant director, all four women for possession of cocaine.  The media did an encore. Media reports claimed that girls and boys develop friendships in “closed apartments” with the help of drugs. The veiled reference was of course, to sex, which they claimed with nothing to substantiate their descriptions of “closed apartments”. There were references to parties where drug use was rampant. On Sunday, two men returning from a reading of Perumal Murugan’s book were detained after being spotted at the Kannur bus stop because they looked “unkempt”. The media went overboard again, but this time, according to them, the two people apparently had links with Maoists. This reference, thanks to the recently reported Maoist attacks in the Kerala. “I have long hair. Police have stopped and searched me couple of times. Maybe I am a Maoist who is unkempt or I am a Maoist who uses drugs. Or maybe they think I am just a drug addict,” says one student from Thiruvananthapuram. For days now, many mainstream publications have been churning copy after copy on drugs, new generation, partying- enabling every kind of stereotype to thrive. As each of these instances occurred, the media played the role of investigator, judge and moral dictator. These provided legitimacy for the police to strip search anyone and everyone under the flimsiest pretext. Tweet Follow @dhanyarajendran

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