Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
I’ve just been watching the TV news channels, and they’re all a little psyched right now. The CBI has announced that Surendra Koli is solely responsible for the Nithari killings, most of which took place when Moninder Singh Pandher was either out of the country or not in his house. The anchors and reporters are bewildered, and are hinting at all manners of dark conspiracies. There are soundbytes of relatives of the victims protesting against the “injustice.” One thing is clear: many of these people decided long ago, after a rapturous media trial, that Pandher was guilty of the serial killings. Now that he’s not even being charged of the killings, they don’t know how to deal with it.
This is especially so because a significant part of the media made it a class issue. They focussed a bit too much on the subtext of a rich, influential businessman killing off poor, defenseless kids in his neighbourhood, and much of the outrage about the Nithari killings came from the class difference. Now that storyline is sinking, and they’re trying to figure out what angle to take. Perverted psychopath killing and eating a whole bunch of kids is less juicy if it’s the servant and not the master we’re talking about.
The whole truth of the matter will hopefully emerge as the trial proceeds, and it might well turn out, as some of the reporters are insinuating, that Koli is covering up for Pandher. But it might also turn out that he’s telling the truth. Either way, should we not suspend our decision until the facts are established?
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9 across: Van Morrison classic from Moondance (7)
6 down: Order beginning with ‘A’ (12)