Kasab coverage in the Indian media

Published: November 23, 2012
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Even as many in the media began sounding triumphant, there were people whose heads were placed firmly on their shoulders. PHOTO: AFP

Even as many in the media began sounding triumphant, there were people whose heads were placed firmly on their shoulders. PHOTO: REUTERS Even as many in the media began sounding triumphant, there were people whose heads were placed firmly on their shoulders. PHOTO: REUTERS Even as many in the media began sounding triumphant, there were people whose heads were placed firmly on their shoulders. PHOTO: AFP

Unlike the Pakistani media that reported the hanging of Ajmal Kasab sparingly, the Indian media featured the story very prominently all day yesterday. I can vouch for the fact that for Indian television and online journalists it was a busy field day.

Literally, all angles of the story were covered – the actual hanging, the mercy petition, 26/11 survivors, 26/11 martyrs and Kasab’s last wish.

One of the reasons that got many elders in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to watch television news was the invincible dumbing down spirit that India TV, a 24 hour Hindi news channel, exhibits time and again. They were true to their reputation yesterday as well, in an attempt to explain to the Indian public the nuances of hanging a terrorist they said, in a hurried tone,

“Faasi ke waqt Kasab bhi maujood.” (During the execution, Kasab was also present at the scene.)

– A piece of information that an average Indian was quite unaware of and was very hungrily seeking!

The English channels, catering to the intelligentsia, were only slightly more measured in their theatrics. Times Now had a two minute promo that called Kasab a ‘butcher’ more than four times! As much as we all agree that Kasab was a terrorist who came to the country to kill people in cold blood, there is little need to rekindle the wounds of the victims of the dreaded night of November 26.

Now that my usual amount of criticism has been meted out, I want to go on record to say that yesterday was a day when I also saw some good, balanced reporting done.

Not all Indians celebrated death.

There will always be channels that went overboard, reporters that got emotional and reportage that were opinions. But, an overall picture of the reporting done on Kasab’s hanging was better than the usual jingoistic, loud reporting.

Even as many in the media began sounding triumphant, there were people whose heads were placed firmly on their shoulders. Kafila, an well-known team blog, carried a piece on how a Mumbai terror attack victim sympathises with Kasab – sensible and level headed commentary on why people like Kasab are made and why we shouldn’t lose sight of the other side.

On rediff.com, independent journalist, Shivam Vij, asked,

“Rejoice, fellow Indians. Ajmal Kasab has been hanged. But please excuse me, I am not joining you. Your cheering and hooting and hurrahs feel like a medieval lynch mob celebrating the death of the sinner and not the sin. ‘Barbaric’ is the word that comes to mind.

This isn’t merely about the morality or aesthetic of capital punishment. I want to ask you; what did we just achieve? Ten terrorists had come to kill and be killed, to cause maximum damage of the sort that they surely knew they’d be killed. Nine of them were killed in direct encounter. Did we hail their deaths? Do we say their deaths were justice? So if we killed Ajmal Kasab four years later – ‘with due process’ — what exactly have we achieved?”

Several senior journalists congratulated him on the piece and several others were concerned about the impact that this would have on the India-Pakistan relations.

And, the social media was rife with several journalists showing their frustration about the Pakistani establishment, but to their credit they targeted their anger towards only the authority. Divya, a senior journalist with NDTV said

“And can Pakistan stop looking away? Such pathetic leadership really, I feel sorry for the common man there.”

I am not sure if it was a triumph of the Indian state by killing a man they had in captivity, but it surely was a triumph of Indian media for the way they handled the story.

Read more by Raksha here or follow her on Twitter@Raksha_Kumar

Raksha Kumar

Raksha Kumar

The author is a Bangalore based video journalist freelancing for the New York Times and the BBC. She graduated from the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University in May 2011 where she majored in TV news. She is a Fulbright Scholar and has worked in various media outlets in India. She tweets @Raksha_Kumar.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pessimist

    I was baffled by the Indian response to the hanging. His death may have bought a small measure of relief to the unfortunate victims of the Mumbai attack. The cheering and celebration carried out on a large (?) scale had me surprised. India hung a man, they did not defeat his ideology. Why celebrate his death? Can someone give me a logical & rational reason?

    If I were to give my opinion on this matter, he should not have been hanged. He should have been kept in solitary confinement for the rest of his life and made to suffer. His death is being labelled as a martyrdom by the extremists here. He’s a ‘shaheed’ to them now :/ Recommend

  • http://www.zaidzamanhamid.wordpress.com Pasha

    I am not sure if it was a triumph of
    the Indian state by killing a man they
    had in captivity

    Yupe… they should have him released him first and then tried to hang him.

    Am I not fed up with wanna-be thinkers and philosopher who just want to swim against the stream for the sake of it. Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Raksha Kumar

    A soul wrenching post, I must admit. On a scale of humanism you rank alongside Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Leo Tolstoy; just to name a few.

    Just as a consolation for wounded souls like yours, it may be of some relief that Kasav at the very least knew why he had to die, while those who died at VT railway station, at the Taj and Trident hotel, at the Leopold Caffe, at the Jewish abode didn’t have a clue at what happened with them, why it happened when it happened. Recommend

  • http://Hyderabad varuag

    Well by and large the coverage was nauseatingly overboard. Even the editorial pages of major newspapers were hijacked by the emotions of the common people gone astray. I don’t agree that the media did a good job in portraying the situation. Distribution of sweets and bursting of firecrackers gave the whole atmosphere a surreal imagery. Somehow we are far away from becoming a sensible civilized nation where death is not celebrated and are warped in an anachronistic time-frame of retributional antics. As a nation we can do better……….Recommend

  • Zainab

    I agree – it may have been a harsher punishment to be jailed for life. Death is too easy a punishment for a terrorist – especially one who believes it will take him straight to heaven and hoories.Recommend

  • Sexton Blake

    The Indian media remind one of how a pack of sharks, in the sea, circle their victim, and then dive in for the spoils after death. They appear to be almost as bad as US media coverage.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Mr. Bush, my name is Kasab and I am a Terrorist.Recommend

  • I.

    Im sure if pakistani media had to report such case (if kasab was an indian and Pakistan was th target of attacks) , it would have done it exactly the same way.
    More they sensationalise, more is their TRP – and believe me that’s all they want.Recommend

  • Hi

    Good read. Tell me though, is there an online newspaper in India (or it’s blog) where common Pakistani’s can write and get published, just like this article?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    I agree, there is nothing to celebrate. However, closing the chapter has brought relief to some, although the manner in which that relief is expressed could be distasteful. I have said this before – the word for terrorism in Hindi is ‘athankvad’ where the ‘- vad’ root means ‘to speak’. The actual terrorists are those who indoctrinate misguided youth from impoverished backgrounds and send them to their deaths after giving them blank cheques on an unknown bank; we have not got rid of these terrorists, and thus have little reason to rejoice.Recommend

  • jism

    “I am not sure if it was a triumph of the Indian state by killing a man they had in captivity”
    what i am sure of is that it was justice, not triumph.
    not one said it was triumph, why did you think it was being seen as triumph by the Indian state?
    it will surely be triumph when we will succeed in punishing those masterminds.
    Indian state sees it as justice not triumph.Recommend

  • ethicalman

    ‘The English channels, catering to the intelligentsia’ Raksha aer’nt u one of them yourself..and you don’t have better things to do then to watch how many times did some channel said what…

    His crimes did not expire in 4 years..but I wished Pakistan would be taught a lesson on this..although I think of it..there own people are killing themselves..but the problem is that they are still in denial..Recommend

  • Parvez

    Surprising that in all the writing and reporting nothing substantial has been said about justice being done and more importantly been seen to have been done.Recommend

  • some guy

    well finally kasab’s ordeal is over. He suffered more than his other 9 partners and their victims. They all died on the spot. He died for 4 years…his sins may well have been forgiven by the torture he had to go through these 4 years…God knows best who goes to heaven and who goes to hell..Recommend

  • Abdul Basit

    Killed after “Killing”! Them MAN!!Recommend

  • Lala Gee

    @varuag:

    At least there is one sensible Indian commentator on ET blogs. Kasab’s execution carried out the same day India voted for abolishing Capital punishment in the UN is another glaring example of duplicity and discriminatory behavior. Not a single culprit of massacres of thousands of Muslims and Sikhs or the killers of 68 Pakistani passengers of Samjhota Express is hanged yet.Recommend

  • Sinclair

    @Hi

    Good read. Tell me though, is there an online newspaper in India (or it’s blog) where common Pakistani’s can write and get published, just like this article?

    You will get published everywhere, but not everywhere is good. Hindustan Times is ok, and Hindu is good most of the times.Recommend

  • mansoor shaekh

    I appreciate my Nation’s leniency that they left the Terrorist to live for 4 years.

    He could have got DEPARTED by showing his talent and bravery at his nation for the right path.

    Alas, it is misused and now he DIED/HANGED….Recommend

  • G.A.

    What Kasab did was nothing in comparison to the whole menace of terrorism which was and being masterminded and fueled by India against Pakistan.Recommend

  • surya

    there no happiness in killing any one for any reason, not many seriously rejoiced but everyone heaved a sigh of relief that we dont have to read about him anymore. Just imagine, 4 yrs of this killer treated as a celebrity by media is disgusting. Happy that law took its prolonged course though. Ok. these dasys if Aishwarya’s daughter catches cold every channel reports it, whats the issue reporting the hanging of a notorious terrosrist.Recommend

  • Bikash Chandra

    @Hi:
    There are so many online newspapers in India say more than 100, anyone from any country can write in their blogs or comment there. Most popular are Times of India, The Hindu, The Hindu, The Telegraph etc. Recommend

  • Falcon

    Can’t comment on the rest, but I do like your Hindi…In “Faasi ke waqt”, the actual Urdu pronunciation of the word is “Phaansi” :)Recommend

  • ethicalman
  • BlackJack

    @Lala Gee:
    You may need glasses. India voted against the resolution.Recommend

  • Ahmad Khan

    @Cynical: “Just as a consolation for wounded souls like yours, it may be of some relief that Kasav at the very least knew why he had to die,”

    What about the State Sponsored Active duty Hindu Terrorist,Col Prohit? Who killed 67 innocent Pakistanis in Samjhota Express? What event Happened before? And why is Prohit the killer and Indian State sponsored Terrorist is still alive?Who is the bigger Terrorist? Prohit killed 67 people alone ,only in one account of Samjhota Express, If we count his other accounts of terrorism within India, it will cross over 100. So, Why is he still alive? Did Samjhota Express victims know why they die for? Stop talking crap. mark my words: It’s the same Drama as OBL death. Myterious, no evidences and no proves. Pure State intelligence operation. Fools can think whatever they want.
    PS*- And still a Mass Murderer and State Sponsored Killers of 2000 Muslims of Gujarat is not yet hanged? Why is this Terrorist still alive?Recommend

  • Absurdist

    Response was justified. He was responsible for brutal butchery. And people wanted to vent their spleens. Being a Pakistani, I have to be honest with the Indians here that it is amazing that he was given full opportunity of his defense in a court . Due process of law was followed and the man got what he deserved .but my salute to the Indian nation and democracy for having such rule of law. I am really impressed.

    @ Lala Gee

    Sir come on. Now you would want human rights for someone who literally butchered many a man. Please save us from your advocacy for rights.Recommend

  • http://India vasan

    Sickening to read the support for kasab the butcher. All over the world, the death of evil is celebrated and rejoiced. After the due process of law and extracting as much info as possible from kasab, the butcher was useless to India in that exorbitant costs are incurred in maintaining him in prison. What the heck, Pak refused to take his body , Do u think they would have taken him back alive. Whether Pak would have accepted him or not, his crime and thoughtless cruelty deserved death punishment more than others, If ever death penalty is to be awarded to anyone, it must be kasab. If ever death of evil is to be celebrated, it was kasab’s death. Dont we all celebrate the death of naragasura even after so many ugas.
    Kasab was not safeguarding pak borders, he was not taking revenge on any enemies, he just brutally murdered innocent civilians in their own city. Even if one guy is deterred because of kasab’s penalty, that is 166 lives saved. Period.Recommend

  • G.A.

    @Ahmad Khan: Well said…thats what we need to remember.Recommend

  • Sexton Blake

    From some of the comments, one would think that India is enshrined in all that is fair and reasonable, and is a fully democratic, secular state. There are many things in India which refute this. For example, I have noticed that two young women were arrested for criticizing, in facebook, the fact that Mumbai was virtually closed down, because of the death of Bal Thackeray. One wonders what other questionable matters are being ignored, or swept under the rug inside India, and this could apply particularly to the 26/11 Mumbai incident, subsequent investigation, and trial ? Recommend

  • Cynical

    @Ahmad Khan

    @Cynical: ‘What about the State Sponsored Active duty Hindu Terrorist,Col Prohit?’

    This article is about Kasab. So it is but natural that the comments should be in context.
    When the cases you mentioned will be the subject matter of an article, I will come up with my views, if I feel the need to do so.
    However, since you brought it up, here is my take on it.
    It seems to me that; a) you are not familiar with the concept of ‘due process’. b) you are not up to date on the cases you mentioned, and c) your response is more of an emotional outpour than a logical arguement.
    To start with, all the cases that you mentioned are sub-judice. People involved in Samjhauta express case are in jail. And they were arrested by the state. So its laughable when you say samjhauta blast was state sponsored. Investigation, Judicial process etc. are time consuming. I wish they were tried under a first track court. Kasab’s trial took 4 years. We haven’t heard the last word yet.

    Whether it is Purohit, or Modi or any x,y,z I want all of them to be tried in a court of law and if found guilty, to serve the punishment meted out by the court. And if that punishment is a death sentence, so be it. Recommend

  • abhi

    i think indian celebrated because, even though it was an open case many thought that he would not be hanged so fast. And there was always a possibility of Khandhar like episode which could result in him getting away. You can call it insecurity complex, but unfortunately this is how average Indian look at the gov functioning. Yes for Indian state it was an triumph to hang a man who was in their captivity.Recommend

  • jahandad

    ITS NOT A SURPRIZE MAJORITY OF INDIANS are full of hate and they are blinded in it to the extent of infinity,,,,may GOD guide them to peace and humanity, and take away hate from their hearts,,,,Recommend

  • gp65

    @Lala Gee: “Kasab’s execution carried out the same day India voted for abolishing Capital punishment in the UN is another glaring example of duplicity and discriminatory behavior. ”

    Factually wrong Lala Gee – and not for the first time either. India voted AGAINST the resolution for abolishing capital punishment. SO no double standards there. Just fyi : countries that voted similar to India on this issue are Pakistan, Bangladesh and USA.Recommend

  • mansoor shaekh

    A Terrorist is a Terrorist, he does not have any religion..

    It’s seen that if any terrorist belongs to any community he is always supported by them.

    I say that there is nothing in name, because the follower of the right path always follow the right path.

    See the following lines by a well known author :-

    ”it is a great sin to kill an innocent person, and anyone who does so will suffer great torment in the hereafter.
    killing one innocent person is regarded as equivalent to killing all of mankind.”

    Kasab’ no idea who was he but punished for doing so, for which he deserves evidently.

    MY NATION HAD KEPT ITS ENEMY AS A GUEST FOR 4 YEARS.Recommend

  • Ahmad Khan

    @Cynical: First rule is that I have already decided what is the context and what the soul of the article is about, It’s about Justice. Consider your invented context null and void.

    Second let’s put this also in context that you have no authority to dictate any terms here.We give a dime to your subject matters and and your personal needs to do whatever. Having decided these rules let’s take your position through your way of logic.We are very familiar with the So called” your State’s FAKE” due processes”. Your State’s due processes are so many and are already quite a laughing stock and travesty of Justice. So, Giving me lectures about your some divine DUE PROCESS means to us just Trash Can. That’s where we place your due Processes. Not even a single case has been decided in favor of the victims of the State Sponsored HINDU TERRORISM whether it’s Death Of Hindu Terrorist Narendra Modi or The Hindu Terrorist Jagdish Tytler and Miscreant and Terrorist Sajjan
    Kumar. There are several such examples with No results in favor of Oppressed. That’s why Your due process is our Trash Can. But let’s for a Moment Assume that Your courts taking time for DUE PROCESS. Well, then your entire nation should stop crying about Hafiz Saeed. We are, too, taking him through due Process and since we are a smaller country with lesser resources it might take us 7 times as much time as your Court’s due process. Hence I will advice you that you advice your Grand kids to keep following on HS case because it is in the due process. It might take atleast 150 years through that process. So be Patient. And I do not want to hear a single sigh of sorrow over this matter any more. Let’s take this process through DUE PROCESS.LOL
    As far as Sub-Judice matters are concerned, it will be sub-judice for you. We perfectly understand that Prohit the Hindu Terrorist is in Hindu Regime’s Protective custody. Remember , I said Where we Placed Your due Processes? To us your Sub-Judice matters are in the same trash can. That brings us back to, As to when we will hear that Terrorist Modi, Terrorist Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler and State sponsored Hindu Terrorist Prohit are going to be hanged. ???? Your regime must decide when it’s going to stop Terrorism in the region. I personally think Hindu Regime can not continue any longer because your My Baap is already accepted defeat in Afghanistan and Your Regime is going to follow the same line as it did in the time of the Soviet defeat. Because I do not think Taliban will entertain you after your master’s departure. All of this is very closely knitted, Kasab , Prohit, Hindu Terrorism in the region, and Mumbai or 26/11. That’s why I took out your Judicial System ( the deliberate Smoke screen) out of the Picture at the beginning. Now, it comes to Your Master’s failure in Afghanistan and so yours . Your Terrorist Polices are going to change drastically, Mark my words on that. And the signs of that you are going to see As your masters say Good-bye to Afghanistan. Then smoke screen will disappear and true face will be revealed. Recommend

  • pari

    world and its people are really complicated ….. its very difficult now days to identify truth…. god knows that ajmal was a terrorist or he was actually in india to become a bollywoodwood actor… ajmal said that he was framed and don’t know any thing about terrorism… he was in india just to get some work in Bollywood and is a big fan of indian movies … thats it…Recommend

  • Gary

    @varuag: I’m hope no one forced you to watch it. What looks like celebration of death to you was/is seen as celebration of justice by others. Can you name one country/civilization that is unwilling to kill? Recommend