Freedom at last: Bombay HC grants Rhea bail
Sir — The decision of the Bombay High Court to grant bail to Rhea Chakraborty in a drug-related case lodged against her is a slap on the face of the Narcotics Control Bureau which put the actress through the wringer (“Drug charges on actress collapse in high court”, Oct 8). The actress was accused of buying drugs for and ‘concealing’ the drug habit of the deceased actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, allegations which amount to financing drug trafficking and harbouring offenders. If that was not enough, the vilification campaign run by certain channels against Chakraborty has tarnished her reputation beyond repair and has, undoubtedly, caused immense psychological trauma. Several TV anchors pronounced their judgment on the actress before there was any concrete evidence against her.
Chakraborty has been painted as the villain in the drama surrounding the death of Rajput all along. It is to her credit that in spite of the stream of vitriol unleashed against her, the actress remained calm in the face of trouble and refrained from pointing fingers at anybody. She also fully cooperated with the NCB in matters concerning the supply of drugs. It goes without saying that the Mumbai police was deliberately sidelined in the case. The 28 days that she spent in Byculla jail in Mumbai must have been extremely nerve-racking. It now seems that the witch-hunt against her was politically motivated in view of the impending elections in Bihar. Going by the unabated feeding frenzy of TV channels these days, it is not difficult to imagine that if it is Chakraborty today, tomorrow there might be someone else who would have to go through the same trauma to prove their innocence.
Sir — The observation by the Bombay High Court while granting conditional bail to the 28-year-old actress, Rhea Chakraborty, that she “is not part of the chain of drug dealers” nor were drugs allegedly procured by her for profit or other benefits, raises questions about the functioning of the NCB. The court also rejected the agency’s allegation that she was financing Sushant Singh Rajput’s drug habit and also harbouring him, an alleged drug offender. It also took note of the fact that the NCB failed to seize any drugs from the possession of either Chakraborty or Rajput. Further, even if the actress had spent money to procure drugs for Rajput, it still did not mean that “she had financed illicit traffic”.
It seems that the NCB, in its rush to prove Chakraborty guilty, went a little too far in invoking various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, including Section 27A, which puts the onus of proving innocence onto the accused. This is absolutely preposterous and points to a lack of professionalism. The investigation against Chakraborty was biased to begin with. Certain sections of the media, too, milked the opportunity to villainize the actress much before court procedures had begun. The case should have been dealt with fair and square from the very beginning.
Sir — It was high time that Rhea Chakraborty was granted bail in the case of drug peddling that has been lodged against her. This comes as a respite to the actress whose life has turned into a Shakespearean drama since the passing of her partner, Sushant Singh Rajput. Several TV channels had appropriated this personal tragedy to boost their television rating points, dragging Chakraborty through a rabid media trial. It is shameful how the media have handled the reporting of the incident.
Sir — It seems that the Uttar Pradesh government is stooping to new lows to justify its gross mishandling of the Hathras case — a 19-year-old Dalit woman was attacked and gang-raped by four upper-caste men, ultimately leading to her death — by raising the spectre of a ‘foreign hand’ (“Twisted plot”, Oct 9). While the administration has harassed people extending their support to the bereaved family, it looked the other way when a gathering of upper-caste individuals in support of the accused had taken place.
The state authorities are leaving no stone unturned to exert pressure on the woman’s family to withdraw the case. Its actions — sealing Hathras, putting the district under Section 144 to quell protests and preventing politicians from meeting the woman’s family and journalists from covering the incident — show that the Yogi Adityanath government is scrambling to hide its failures. It seems that the government is doing all it can to suppress the truth.
Need for action
Sir — It was deeply disturbing to learn that a global study has found that online abuse is increasingly driving girls to quit social media, with nearly 60 per cent of them having reportedly faced harassment. Finding reporting tools to be ineffective, the researchers have called on social media companies as well as governments to take urgent action to address the issue. Women, it seems, are unsafe even in the virtual space. As the pandemic moves our lives online, social media has become our primary mode of interaction. Unless the situation is remedied, the online space, much like physical spaces, will come to be dominated by men.