Farmers' Death in UP & Aryan Khan's Arrest: How Leading Dailies Covered the News
Two stories ruffled up the weekend – violence at farmers' protest in UP and Aryan Khan's arrest over a drug bust.
Two stories ruffled up the weekend – violence at farmers' protest in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and a Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) raid on a cruise ship near Mumbai.
In the incident from UP, at least eight people, including farmers, were reported dead in clashes that erupted while they were protesting against the the Union government's three farm laws in Lakhimpur Kheri.
The farmers died after being allegedly run over by the car of Ashish Misra, son of Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs Ajay Misra.
Elsewhere, from Mumbai's coast, the high-profile arrest of Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan's son Aryan Khan over alleged possession of drugs raked up memories of the aftermath of Sushant Singh Rajput's death by suicide.
But no prizes for guessing what grabbed the eyeballs and what got the second spot in media reportage.
How Top Hindi Dailies Covered the Story
While four farmers, three Bharatiya Janata Party workers, a driver and a journalist lost their lives in the violence that ensued at Lakhimpur Kheri, it was Aryan Khan's arrest that stood out on the front pages of several Hindi newspapers.
Comparatively, the seizure of 2,988.21 kg heroin from two containers at the Adani-operated Mundra port, from September, in Gujarat’s Kutch district, nearly did not grab eyeballs as Aryan's arrest did.
Although the incident from UP was also featured alongside, certain newspapers like Dainik Jagran, seemed to pin the blame of violence wholly on the "unruly farmers".
The newspaper's front page headline read "Uttar Pradesh mein arajak kisano ka upadrav, chheh ki gayi jaan" (Unruly Farmers Cause Disorder in UP, 6 Dead).
In fact, neither Dainik Bhaskar nor Navbharat Times mentioned the allegations against Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs Ajay Misra's son in their big bold headlines.
But it's not just about how newspapers are reporting the two incidents, the coverage is also telling of the difference between the kind of importance the two cases are receiving from security forces and investigative agencies.
While Aryan Khan was promptly arrested with five others after the NCB raid, on the other hand, although the UP Police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Ashish Misra for murder, not a single arrest has been made yet.
Among the major Hindi dailies, Amar Ujala was one of the few that shed light on the allegations against Misra on its front page.
How Leading English Newspapers Covered the Two Stories
Unlike some of the top Hindi dailies, certain leading English dailies such as The Tribune, Times of India and Hindustan Times tried to balance both the stories on their front page.
Although the information around the specific details around Aryan Khan's involvement in the drugs case is still obscure, Times of India's headline for the NCB raid went onto say that "SRK's son 'consumed charas'".
It was almost a reminder of the kind of conjectures that reports and prime-time news deliberated upon, around the Rhea Chakraborty saga a year ago.
What we know so far about the case, is that the NCB recovered 13 gram of cocaine, 21 gram of charas, 22 pills of MDMA and 5 gram of MD in the raid on an alleged "rave party" in a cruise liner.
The charges against Aryan Khan include purchase, possession and use of banned substances, however, Aryan’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde told the court on Sunday, that no contraband had been found on him nor was there any evidence of consumption.
The Telegraph was one of the few English dailies which highlighted the farmers' deaths while the NCB raid found mention only in the fourth page.
Meanwhile on TV...
But news channels were far more vocal in calling attention to the drug bust.
Times Now, which has often come under fire over its skewed reportage on several matters, especially the SSR case, held debates on both the issues on its Newshour Debate segment.
However, the programme titles conveyed bias towards one side with "Farmers protest in Lakhimpur Kheri turns ugly; Will the Kisan admit guilt?" being the pitch for the debate on the UP violence.
For the debate on the Mumbai drug bust, the channel went back to its "Bollywood drug nexus" pitch that had taken the centre stage during the SSR case.
Republic TV, another English news channel infamous for its TRP-seeking biased reportage, had far fewer updates on Lakhimpur Kheri than it had on Aryan Khan.
From bringing visuals from outside Shahrukh Khan's house to "Visuals Of Every Thing That Was Seized From Cordelia Cruise Raid" — Republic TV journalists came out with their guns blazing to report on the matter.
With the NCB now claims to have found ‘shocking incriminating material’, the Mumbai drugs case is likely to hog the TV screens and front pages of newspapers, but would the incident have drawn any attention at all if a superstar's son was not involved?
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