A prominent journalist announced this morning that his news channel would feature a two-hour long exclusive interview with actor Rhea Chakraborty tonight, August 27. As preview clips of the interview begin to surface, Rajput’s sister Shweta Singh Kirti took to Twitter to condemn it and tweeted with the hashtag #ArrestRheaChakroborty.

Over multiple tweets, Kirti expressed her grievances with the interview, writing, “Aaj Tak is interviewing Rhea Chakraborty for 2 hours and planning to air that interview on a national platform. If that happens it will be an utter disgrace and slap on the face of 130 Crore Indians fighting for justice of my Brother. #ArrestRheaChakroborty.” She also wrote that the “Government of India needs to see to it that a prime accused should not be moving around giving interviews and doing publicity stunts!!!

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Shweta Singh Kirti Demands Justice For Her Brother

Chakraborty is currently facing an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) after the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead for an official CBI probe into the death of Rajput on August 19.

Yesterday, it was reported that an FIR has been filed against Chakraborty under multiple sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act after the ED “referred some evidence to the CBI and the NCB about her alleged links to banned drugs,” as per Indian Express.

The hashtags #JusticeForSSR and #CBIForSSR have been trending ever since, spearheaded notably by Kirti and Rajput’s reported former girlfriend Ankita Lokhande on social media. Kirti has previously stated that she expects the “truth” to come out and has demanded “an unbiased investigation” into her brother’s death.

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Does Rhea Chakraborty Deserve A Witch-Hunt?

Ever since Rajput’s death on June 14, people have been able to talk about nothing else. It makes headlines every day, with media trials against Chakraborty even as the official investigation is underway. Television news channels have created nothing short of a circus out of Rajput’s tragic death. Replacing objectivity with sensationalism, national news channels and their anchors have initiated what many, including Swara Bhasker, are claiming to be a “witch-hunt” against Chakraborty.

In a complete breach of privacy and journalistic ethics, a particular news channel that undertook the task of investigating Rajput’s death itself leaked an entire set of call records on Chakraborty’s phone. A Twitter user complained that her friend, whose number was also on the call log, had received threatening calls from random people.

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Can Media Trials Ever Bring Justice?

Now that a news channel has decided to interview Chakraborty directly, netizens are calling for its boycott and her arrest. Why? When her entire dirty laundry has been put out for everyone to see, doesn’t Chakraborty have an equal right to present her side of the case to the public? After hordes of questions, abuses, and accusations have been hurled towards her, shouldn’t she be given a platform to speak too? Doesn’t serving her mob justice by calling for her arrest indicate a breakdown of the legal system?

If the investigative agencies involved have no objections to Chakraborty appearing on a public platform to defend herself, then she has all the liberty in the world to do so. An angry riot of people demanding swift “justice” even before the CBI incriminates anyone, let alone Chakraborty, would bring nothing but injustice. What should instead be called out is the hypocrisy of people who readily consume the conspiracy theories about Rajput’s death that news channels serve to them through tabloid-style journalism, but are now opposing a news channel when it is giving space to Chakraborty to exercise her freedom of speech.

Even as journalists turn detectives, law and rights cannot take a backseat. As a citizen, even if she is a suspect in Rajput’s death probe, Chakraborty is entitled to present her narrative of the story. It is on us to believe her or not.

Image Credit: Shweta Singh Kirti

Views expressed are the author’s own.

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