On 1st October 2017, the country was shocked as The Hindu published an article that claimed that a dying woman, at the Elphinstone stampede tragedy in Mumbai, was molested by a bystander. The journalist, Vedika Chaubey had included a 8 seconds long video clip, which was later questioned as the longer video that emerged suggested that the bystander was actually trying to help the victim.
Social media erupted with questions and was gripped with horror at the sheer negligence of not only The Hindu and Vedika Chaubey, who had initially reported the story, but also at how other mainstream media outlets and journalists were quick to believe the story without demanding video proof and circulated it widely.
Social Media’s skepticism and our own report on the matter stood vindicated when news emerged today that the police have probed the allegation of molestation and found it to be untrue. A senior police official has reportedly asserted that the man accused of molesting the victim seconds before she died, was actually trying to help her.
As per a report in The Indian Express, the official reportedly said:
“The victim got stuck in between the railing of the bridge. The commuter tried to drag her out. He rested her body on his foot and was trying to pull her and grabbed her by her chest. His intention was to save her and not molest her”. This report was also confirmed by ACP Sunil Deshmukh.
While these reports have vindicated the doubts raised by Social Media, Mr. S. Sudhir Kumar had sought answers from The Hindu and Mr. A. S. Panneerselvan, who is the Reader’s Editor of The Hindu, by drawing his attention to the report carried by Opindia. In response, Mr. Panneerselvan assured appropriate action, following investigation.
This story of molestation shook the very core of everyone who read it, owing to the ghastly circumstances under which it was reported to have happened. The thought of a bystander molesting a woman seconds away from breathing her last was a depth of degeneracy few had imagined.
Considering this story now appears a fabrication, the editorial standards of The Hindu and of those outlets that carried this story without basic fact-checking, have come under scanner. It is a monstrosity if a Good Samaritan is smeared as a molester in the pursuit of provocative journalism. At the very core of the spirit of journalism, is curiosity and a dogged pursuit of evidence.
Perhaps it’s time the mainstream media introspects and asks themselves if credibility is an appropriate price to pay for perverse sensationalism.