Murder seems to be different in different places
Gregory Fernandes, a Goan, was killed in Britain. He died after he was brutally attacked by a group of about 20 teenagers on October 20, 2007, while their ship was anchored at a British port. While Fernandes died, his shipmate Vinod Pitchilnaviram suffered a broken shoulder. The attack has been termed a racist attack by misguided British youth. Gregory was all of 32 years old. But have you heard of Gregory Fernandes and Vinod Pitchilnaviram? Maybe so…..Maybe not.. Maybe you may not know Gregory by name, and just might have read a passing headline in the Page 6 of an Indian newspaper about a racial attack on an Indian, and the recent criminal proceedings against his perpetrators. Do you know how Gregory looked like? Do you know his parents sufferings? Probably not.
Scarlett Keelling, a British teenager was murdered in Goa in Feb 2008. Have you heard about her? Have you seen her photos? Do you know about her lifestyle, life-history and her mother? The answer to these questions is probably a resounding “Yes!!” and you might even be ready to tell me a Scarlett trivia “But do you know that Scarlett……….”
While the Scarlett Keeling murder created a tsunami in Indian and World press, Gregory Fernandes killing hardly created a ripple. The entire World media went on an overdrive detailing every minor issue, every silly rumor about the Scarlett case. Indian media did not lag far behind, providing wall-to-wall coverage and Indian television channels followed their British counter-parts, providing around-the-clock coverage on Scarleet Keeling case. “Is Goa safe for tourists” screamed the headlines around the world and in India. Did any media in India or abroad raise the question “Is Britan safe for Goans/Indians?” after the Gregory killing. In-fact Floriano Fernandes, father of Gregory said “Even I’ve been in England but it wasn’t like this before. I felt very safe, but now it seems to be a very unsafe place, especially for Indians. How can somebody kill in such a manner?” But probably you wouldn’t have seen this statement by Greogry’s father, because it was hardly played or quoted in the Indian media. But every statement and every movement of Scarlett’s mother, Fiona MacKeown, made for a new headline, a new “Breaking News Story”.
Why the enormous difference in press coverage? It is not a case of “dog biting a man is not news, while man biting a dog is news”. Both a Briton getting killed in Goa and a Goan getting killed in Britain are equally rear/ equally frequent. I don’t buy the P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing) argument either. Most of us don’t even know how Gregory looked like… and I am sure for his family members, Gregory must have been equally beautiful. Perhaps the mystery surrounding Scarlett’s death and her colorful lifestyle might explain some of the differences. But the enormity of the differences can only be explained by the fact that the Indian and Western media thinks it is a far greater tragedy, when there is a death of a Westerner. This case reiterates the point I had made in my earlier article regarding the “value of life”…a Western life is valued more by the global and Indian media, then the life of an Indian.
The British media coverage of Scarlett is understandable, because they value the lives of each and every one of their citizens and a loss of any life of their citizens fills them with sorrow. Whereas Indian media’s coverage of the Scarlett issue and not covering an equally brutal killings of Indians is pathetic. I hope Indian media would emulate their Western counter-parts, not by copying each and every headline from abroad, but by cherishing the lives of Indian citizens. Maybe it is time for us to write to our newspapers and TV channels and tell them to stop showcasing each and every crime and alleged crime made by Indians against Westerners. Or if they want to publish these articles, they should also publish about the crimes and alleged crimes committed by Westerners against Indians.
The crime against Scarlett in Goa was heinous. But so was the crime against Gregory was equally nefarious. An Indian life is no inferior or superior than a Western one.
* Though I have seen this happening over the last seventy years , it is worth high lighting this incident, Raja