Mumbai: Actor Sonam Kapoor and filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Mira Nair are among over two thousand people who have signed an open letter. The open letter condemns the media’s ‘witch-hunt’ of Rhea Chakraborty in the coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death investigation.
A number of others have also signed in the open letter. Among them are Frieda Pinto, Zoya Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar, Alankrita Shrivastava and Gauri Shinde. Others who have put their signatures include Reema Kagti, Ruchi Narain, Rasika Dugal, Dia Mirza and Kubbra Sait. They have asked the media in the letter to ‘hunt news, not women’.
Chakraborty has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with drugs-related allegations in the death case of Rajput. The 34-year-old actor was found dead at his Bandra residence June 14.
The open letter has been addressed to ‘the dear news media of India’. It has been published on a blog called ‘Feminist Voices’ and it has over 2,500 signatories from all walks of life.
“Dear news media of India. We are worried about you. Are you feeling ok? Because, as we watch your witch-hunt of Rhea Chakraborty. We cannot understand why you have abandoned every professional ethic of journalism, every tenet of human decency and dignity. You have chosen instead to physically assault a young woman with your camera crews, endlessly violate her privacy and work overtime on false accusations and moralistic innuendo for a drama of ‘Rhea ko phasao’,” the letter reads.
No bed or pillow: This is how Rhea Chakraborty is spending her time in jail
The letter calls out the media for being ‘obsessed’ with creating the narrative of a young woman as a ‘morally dubious character’. This is because she speaks up for herself instead of ‘acting like a damsel in distress’.
The letters draws parallels about the coverage of cases of actors Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt. It urged the media to show the same kindness and respect to Rhea that it had shown to these actors.
“We know you can be different – because we have seen you be kind and respectful to the Salman Khans and Sanjay Dutts of this world, urging us to think of their families, fans and careers,” the letter said. It asked why the media had ‘assassinated’ Rhea’s character and egged an online mob against her and her family.
“It is easy to victimise a young woman. There are so many people who already disbelieve, slut-shame and abuse women, for their smallest freedoms. It is certainly cheaper than doing actual stories about a host of issues from GDP to health, currently confronting us,” the letter further said.
Citing the disturbing rise in domestic violence during the pandemic, the letter condemned the media for promoting damaging stereotypes of ‘vishkanyas’ and ‘dayans’ while trivialising depression and perpetuating regressive stereotypes about mental health.
“We write to ask you, the news media, to stop this unfair witch-hunt of Rhea Chakraborty and to stop fuelling moral polarities of good women to be deified and bad women to be crucified which endangers all women. We write to ask you to do the right and responsible thing. Your jobs. Hunt news, not women,” the letter added.