Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Between sensationalism and suppression

The Kerala media which diligently report developments relating to Malayalees as also others with roots in Kerala have maintained discreet silence over a story which has been making headlines in Chennai for a week and has been picked up by newspapers elsewhere too.

The story is about a Mercedes Benz running over three children at the dead of night, resulting in the death of one of them in hospital. The incident occurred on May 23.  Police allege the driver and other occupants were drunk.

It is not clear who was at the wheel at the time of the accident: the owner, who slipped away from the scene of the accident and is said to be still at large or his driver. According to newspaper reports, both of them have alleged that the police is framing them.

What has earned the hit-and-run story big headlines is the VIP angle. The car belongs to Shaji Purushothaman, son of M.P. Purushothaman, Chairman of the Empee’s group which owns distilleries and hotels. M.P.Purushothaman’s daughter is married to Vayalar Ravi’s son but he has connections across the political spectrum. When CPI-M leader Pinarayi Vijayan was forced to break journey in Chennai while flying to New Delhi for a Politburo meeting following the discovery of bullets in his laptop case at the airport, it was to Purushothaman’s house that he drove to spend the night.

The Hindu is taking in this story an interest which is uncharacteristic, presumably driven by the compulsions of competition – this is the kind of thing the Times of India revels in – as also the current editor’s desire to reshape the paper according to his own light.  

M.P. Purushothaman, apart from being a prominent businessman, has been associated since long with Malayalee and Sree Narayana organizations in Chennai.

The failure of the two large Malayalam newspapers which have bureaus in Chennai to report developments relating to this case in their Kerala editions must be deliberate.

Between sensationalism and suppression, there is an acceptable, professional way of handling events of this kind.  

For the benefit of those who wish to know more, I am giving below links to stories which have appeared in the national newspapers:

The Hindu:

Who are the Purushothamans?

Both Shaji, driver claim they have been framed in accident case

RTI activists up in arms over speeding Merc case

Mystery deepens over Egmore car accident case

A day later, boy hit by drunk car driver dies

Speeding car hits 5 at bus shelter in Egmore

Other newspapers:

Shaji had own hard-partying set of friends

Tamil Nadu business family scion who drove over kids is on the run