On September 13, national television stooped to another new low. Two guests, both self-proclaimed spiritual gurus, slapped each other and used expletives on the show ‘Aaj Ka Mudda’ on IBN 7.
It all started when Om Ji of the Hindu Mahasabha, who is also a self-styled Godman, was having a heated discussion with Rakhi Bai, an astrologer, over the Radhe Ma controversy.
Om Ji said:
“How can you criticise Radhe Ma, you correct yourself first.”
When Rakhi protested against the same, Om Ji said he was talking about another guest on the show Deepa Sharma, described as ‘Dharma Guru’ (religious teacher) by the channel. And he brought up her personal life issues, alleging that she is fighting a case against her father-in-law and also referred to some alleged criminal cases against her.
Deepa Sharma, who was seen sitting calmly, then stood up and went to Om Ji and interrupted him. She said, “Tameez se baat kariye (behave yourself)” and then slapped him. Om Ji retaliated and slapped her back. While manhandling her, he said, “Tu kya maregi mujhe?” Rakhi Bai kept asking Om Ji to stop the violence.
Meanwhile, the channel has condemned the incident. It said:
“We invite responsible people to our shows and expect our guests to behave responsibly. We don’t expect such behaviour from them and condemn it.”
Also, Broadcast Editors Association general secretary, N.K. Singh, disapproved of the incident. He said, “The purpose of such shows is to give information from both sides and let viewers make a decision. This is shameful.”
The incident on the TV show has highlighted some serious issues. But we want to ask the ‘media industry’:
1.Why IBN7 crew did not intervene when the fight started? Was recording the fight more important than stopping it? 2. Isn’t it the duty of the channel to ensure that their guests remain safe while they are on their show? 3. Why many ‘leading’ papers, TV channels, and news websites did not highlight the fact that ‘Deepa Sharma was manhandled by Om Ji’?
Let us clarify here that we condemn the violent tussle between Deepa Sharma and Om Ji. Both should have resorted to dialogue. And while we condemn the way this shameful incident was racked up by the media, we cannot but laugh at our own irony of being a media house.