Deepa, the sister of the Dalit woman who was killed in a gruesome manner inside her home in Perumbavoor has been in the midst of media speculations. Various news outlets, in the past few days, published articles in what can only be called as a media trial of the family of the victim. (For example, see here, here, and here.) In the YouTube video below, Deepa talks to a bunch of reporters at the hospital where her mother is being treated, and responds to being mobbed with such allegations and questions firmly reminding them to refrain from irresponsible reporting. Below is a transcribed and translated version of the video clip where she answers questions by various news reporters. Since these are often being asked by a number of men speaking simultaneously, the questions are not always clear enough for transcription. As the reporters are behind the camera, invisible, it is not possible to make out how many reporters are there, and who are the people asking her these questions.
SAVARI believes that when victims and their families ask media to back off, they should do that. Continuing aggressive intrusions into their pain to increase TRP ratings is gross violation of their fundamental human rights.
Deepa: It has been a few days since I came here. I just had the dress that I had put on and no other clothes. The staff here (at the hospital) gave me two sets of clothes, but they don’t fit me well. So I went home to take some clothes. Also I needed the pass book of my bank account, relating to a job that I was looking at. These are the two purposes for which I went home.
Now, regarding travelling in Sir’s (a police officer’s) vehicle, they had to go somewhere, and for me, travelling with them gives me more security. He was called by someone from office, he went there and talked to them, and soon after that, we left the office in the vehicle. And then, I am hearing, I am an accused in the case. Who among you are drawing up these kind of things? Tell me.
Male reporter: Deepa, do you suspect anyone?
Deepa: I don’t doubt that the police is investigating in all necessary ways. For God’s sake, please don’t write unnecessary things and put it out. Why are you making it difficult for them?
Male Voice: Nobody here has given any news saying that you are an accused.
Deepa: Yes, you have. Don’t lie. Don’t lie that you haven’t done it. How else is it possible, within minutes, (for it to circulate) that Deepa is an accused? It will not come out in any way other than through the channels.
Muffled voice: Nobody has given news that you are an accused. Just like you, we are also waiting here to know what the news is. (Since there is more than one man speaking simultaneously, it is not audible enough to make out all of them clearly)
Deepa: Yes, you have.
Male Voices : …We are waiting here…
Deepa: Don’t lie that you haven’t done it (given out news).
Male voice: We are standing here to find out who killed your sister. So you shouldn’t talk to us like this.
Deepa (gesturing to stop): Let me ask you: If you are here to find out about my sister’s death and who killed her, why are you hanging around here (in the hospital)?
Male Voice 1 (defensive): We have not given this news… (muffled, not clearly audible, may be something else)
Male Voice 2 (defensively questioning): What would you rather have us do?
Deepa: Eh? If you want to find out, go there and find out.
Male Voice: Did somebody ask you to say these things?
Deepa: Nobody has asked me to say this. I am a woman who is over 30. I am the mother of a child. I have sufficient common sense and awareness. Nobody needs to ask me to tell anything.
(Muffled unclear question.)
Deepa: Why is it like that? Will anyone except you people working in various channels put out such a news?
Male Voice: Do you suspect anyone? Do you want to tell us anything?
Deepa: Let me say this. We have lost *my* younger sister. You should understand that. You have been literally killing and squeezing out our lives for the last few days. What do you get out of it? Don’t you have sisters at home? If something like this happens to your sibling, and a bunch of us folks come to your home and put you through this treatment, how will you react? In the minimum, you will beat and shoo them away. Wont you do that? You know we are poor, and nobody is going to come talk on our behalf. Isn’t that why you feel free to do these antics? Isn’t it?
We have nothing against you. But we have one request: Please put out news through your channels after verifying them, that they are true.
(There are constant interruptions by a barrage of questions)
Deepa: Listen to what I’m saying. Please don’t listen to rumours that other people circulate and broadcast that as news.
Male Voice: You had mentioned about your neighbours to the SP.
Deepa: We suspect several people. When we started living there, a lot of people have troubled us in different ways. The police are investigating it. They are questioning concerned people. Let me tell you, they are trying to do all that is within their abilities. Please don’t make it hard for them too.
(There are many voices here and cannot make all of them out)
Male Voice: The same police did nothing when at first.
Deepa: Who said that?
Male Voice: Do you trust that police?
Deepa: Who said that? All these days, they are running around for us, and doing all they can. What’s the point of questioning anyone you find and unjustly punishing them? We need to find the real culprit. You tell me, is there a point in punishing an innocent person? We have to find the real culprit and punish him. A lot of people who have been suspected are being questioned.
Male Voice: Who did it (the crime)?
Deepa: We don’t know, do we? Whoever that did it will be brought to justice. The police are working towards it, and they are doing everything possible. You have to understand their difficulties too. There is a policewoman too. They have also left their family and commitments to be here and do this. Have you looked at the situation in their families? Two of the police officers on duty here have their kids who are sick but they are not able to take leave and are part of this investigation for us. For God’s sake, I request you all, don’t create trouble for us. Is this enough? Are you at peace?
Male reporter (angry and loud): …. For us to be at peace…?
(The question is cut off mid-sentence and this reporter who displays no media ethics or sensitivity to a family that has suffered a most traumatic experience will remain faceless because he is behind the camera).