Reporters Without Orders Ep 139: Lakhimpur Kheri and the Delhi riots investigation
In this episode, host Snigdha Sharma is joined by Newslaundry’s Akanksha Kumar and Ayush Tiwari.
From a warmongering senior politician from Uttar Pradesh to a recently-formed “nationalist” digital media association, the conversation hits off with some bizarre news stories.
The discussion moves on to Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri--a place that has recently gained notoriety for crimes against women, especially minors from socially disadvantaged communities. In the month of August, within a span of twenty days, at least three incidents of rape and murder of minors belonging to the Dalit community were reported from the region. Newslaundry reporters Akanksha Kumar and Nidhi Suresh visited Lakhimpur Kheri to report on the issue.
Referring to her report on the first case involving a 13-year-old girl, the most heart wrenching part, Akanksha says, was when the victim’s mother said, “I was sleeping, otherwise I would’ve gone with her.”
Akanksha goes on to talk about her report on the second case involving a 17 year-old victim. She draws parallels and points to the differences between Hathras and Lakhimpur Kheri cases in terms of caste divide. Joining the conversation, Ayush observes, “Covering such stories like Hathras and Lakhimpur Kheri, it seems that the field (agricultural), khet jisko kehte hai, in rural India is such an unsafe space for women.”
Snigdha then moves on to discuss Ayush and Sukriti’s NL Sena report on Delhi police’s probe into the murder of Ashfaq Hussain, Mehtab Khan, and Zakir Ahmed. Snigdha asks Ayush what he, as a reporter, draws from the experience of consistently following one story as in this case. He says, “So when we look at these riot stories, they are all different in their own ways. But they all say something about the kind of world we live in. Talking further, Ayush points towards the lack of substantial evidence against Mohammad Arif, the accused in the case. He adds, “It was pretty clear through these eye witnesses that this man is being framed in this case. But what everyone would tell you about Arif in Brijpuri is that he is a BC. I didn't know what this BC was so I asked them. BC refers to ‘Bad Character’ or history-sheeter, in other words.
This and a lot more as they talk about what made news, what didn’t, and what shouldn’t have. Tune in!
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