Like every Delhiite, Monday was not just another night for Amar Kumar. The icecream vendor from Kalyanpuri was tugging his cart towards India Gate just past midnight. He had done good business in Connaught Place and wanted to sell some more at the popular roundabout in the Capital’s heart before calling it a day.
India Gate at the time was full of revellers on the New Year’s Eve.
But life changed for the 30-year-old’s family in a flash, just past the magic hour: he had just reached the roundabout of Jaswant Singh Road when, witnesses have told the police, a Maruti Wagon R zoomed in from the Parliament Street side. And in that same, extended flash, it hit Kumar. The collision, witnesses said, was so violent that Kumar flew to the other end of the road, and the car thudded to a stop after hitting the pavement.
The accused, Neelu Ranjan, identified himself as a senior reporter with Aaj Tak news channel, the police said. He was returning from the New Year’s bash at the Press Club of India and was pretty much inebriated by that time, police officials said.
Witnesses have told the police that Ranjan was not even able to stand properly when he came out of the car after the fatal collision. As people gathered to collar him, a heated argument ensued. Ranjan, reportedly with Aaj Tak’s special investigation team (SIT), then took Kumar to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in his car. But the 30-year-old was declared dead when brought to the hospital; doctors said he died due to injury on head.
A case for causing death due to rash and negligent driving was registered against Ranjan at Parliament Street police station. He was arrested, and came out on bail on Tuesday morning. “The driver was drunk; his vehicle has been impounded,” said I.B. Rani, additional DCP, New Delhi.
An accident is an accident, and even media persons are not immune from them. But will dog bite dog? Not for our TV channels. More than a day after the accident, no media organisation has, as yet, reported the tragedy caused by one of their own. Any wonder why public cynicism of the media is growing?
Certainly not Aaj Tak.
Certainly, Neelu Ranjan is no Neel Chatterjee, the Standard Chartered executive who decided to make a Bombay watchman’s late night cup of tea his last two years ago.
Certainly, a journo behind a Wagon R is not as rich as a businessman’s son like Alistair Pereira behind a Toyota Corolla, when he mowed down seven persons, most of them migrant workers from Karnataka, in Bombay.
And certainly, a TV face is not as glamourous as that of Salman Khan or Puru Raaj Kumar, the son of the actor Raaj Kumar, both of whom showed their machismo over the bodies of pavement dwellers in Bombay.
Still, surely, there cannot be one set of rules for mediapersons, and another for whom they cover? Unlike his illustrious predecessors, at least Neelu Ranjan had the courtesy to take his victim to hospital, but…
Will Aaj Tak‘s anchors be shouting at the top of their voice about drunken driving tonight?
Will NDTV be covering the story as furiously as it has Sanjeev Nanda‘s BMW hit-and-run case?
Will CNN-IBN do the story, considering that Ranjan was employee of IBN7, the Hindi channel owned by Tv 18?
Will the law be allowed to its course without powerful publishers and anchors making their famous phone calls?
Will dog bite dog? The nation waits and watches. Or maybe it won’t.