India Today shields Rhea Chakraborty citing her academic records


Even as CBI inquiry into the alleged suicide case of actor Sushant Singh Rajput deepens, a nefarious attempt is underway by media organisations, specifically India Today group, to paint Rhea Chakraborty, the prime accused in the late actor’s death probe, as innocent of committing any wrongdoing in the case.

After the actress was provided with a platform to defend herself in the case, India Today has now published an article, citing her “brilliance” in school, in what appears as an attempt to exculpate her in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s alleged suicide case.

The article published by India Today quotes the teachers who taught Rhea Chakraborty while she was in her school in Agra. In a bid to wash away the allegations levelled against the actress in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s death case, the article highlighted Rhea’s scholastic achievements, her participation in extra-curricular and sports activities and her gregarious nature of bonding up with students older than her age.

One of the teachers who had taught Rhea from Class 5 to Class 9 at the St Clare’s Senior Secondary School in Agra was quoted in the article as saying that Rhea was “quite bright” in studies and very active in the classes. The teacher also added that Rhea was amongst the “favourites” of her teachers and her seniors in school.

“She was full of confidence even at that young age and her intelligence was evident from the way she interacted during class, trying to answer every question posed by the teachers,” the teacher said in an interview with India Today.

With Rhea Chakraborty right in the crosshairs of the investigative agencies for her alleged involvement in the Sushant Singh Rajput’s purported suicide case, this extenuating account by India Today serves to characterise her as innocent, even as investigation in the case is yet to be concluded.

Furthermore, by leaning on her past academic performances at a time when she is embroiled in the investigation of a death case, the report published by India Today implies that those who are intellectually brilliant in their childhood, seldom commit any murderous crime in their future. This fallacy is profoundly misplaced, as the historical evidence suggests that there had been many criminals with exceptional academic records.

Instances when media organisations have dishonestly proceeded to provide a humanising account of criminals

This is not the first time that an accused has been provided with a humanising account by the media organisations. There have been countless instances when the media organisations have proceeded to understate the offences committed by individuals, even terrorists, and provide prosaic accounts of their past lives to humanise them.

Most recently, several media organisations characterised Riyaz Naikoo, a top Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, as a “Math scholar famous popular among students”. The dead Hizbul terrorist was quite active in the valley and responsible for various abductions and recruitment of fresh blood to the Hizbul Mujahideen over the years but the media outfits ignored these facts and exalted him as a math professor who was pushed to extremism by perceived inequities meted out to him by the Indian Armed Forces.

Similarly, another dreaded terrorist Zakir Musa was described in the media as if he was a rock star or a movie actor. The News 18 report published on him highlighted inconsequential information like how Musa’s father Abdul Rasheed Bhat, an engineer by profession, had received a packet containing an iPhone, iPod, and three debit cards in 2013. Zakir Musa’s decision to become an armed terrorist has been represented in the report as a father’s sorrow of his son ‘sacrificing’ luxury.

Likewise, Burhan Wani, former Hizbul Commander in Kashmir who was neutralised by the Armed Forces in an encounter in 2016, was characterised by journalist Barkha Dutt as a poor headmaster’s son. His murderous zeal and Islamist impulses were of no significance for the current YouTube journalist, but his father’s profession was considered as a more important nugget of information, that had to be used to describe him.

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