My Peepli-Live Moment

Some were sipping tea before entering the court while others were talking to their clients. But many of them suddenly turned eye-witnesses to earn their two-minute fame on national television. An opportunity at a time of disaster or was it Love in Times of Cholera!

It was almost the ‘Peepli Live’ moment outside the Delhi High Court on September 7 soon after a briefcase bomb exploded infront of the crowded reception centre near Gate No 5. The bomb exploded at 10:14 am, according to Home Minister P Chidambaram and in 15 minutes, all the injured were in hospital with the area cordoned off.

Then came the lawyers, whom their colleagues claim were not near the site when the blast took place, looking for media crew as investigators were looking for that hidden truth.

It was like a meeting of bats, all in their lawyer gowns and started talking impromptu. “I just heard the defeaning sound. I was just 10 metres away. I saw the smoke. I saw the man. What was police doing. We don’t have CCTVs,” everybody sounded similar.

At least three-four lawyers were seen giving their “eye-witness” accounts to each and every news channel which came their way but some of their colleagues were seen laughing at them saying they were no were near the site.

Another lawyer was seen taking his stunned woman client to TV cameras to tell that his clerk had taken her to get a pass made. When reporters started asking her, she was in such a misery that she could not speak but the lawyer kept going on and on to ensure that his two-minute fame does not fade away.

“This is their craze for getting into TV. They are trying to capitalise on a tragedy. These are not the real people who were there at the gate to help victims. I know at least one lawyer who lost his hearing ability for a while but did not want to be infront of cameras,” said a lawyer laughing at the ongoing ‘tamasha’.

By 1:30 pm, the media frenzy was over and Chidambaram had come and gone. Reporters and cameramen were lazing around as there was no work. The latecomers, the regional channels from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, haven’t got their eye-witness accounts. The litigants have gone. Then again came the same lot of lawyers to save the regional reporters from losing their job.

Mediapersons also had to share the blame as they kept pestering whoever was in a black gown asking whether they were at the spot and give an update on what was happening.

A TV reporter was seen pestering a young lawyer who was helping the injured and ask him to give his version. When he refused, she shouted at him, “it is your duty to help media” but the lawyer shot back, “I know what I am doing and now I should help the victims.

As reporters went searching for eye-witnesses, some went to a security guard who repeatedly told them that he had not left his gate though he was standing bang opposite the blast site. “I did not leave the gate. I cannot go. If I had gone to check, I would have lost my job,” the guard, hailing from Bihar and in his late 50s said.

Did you see smoke? asked one reporter and he said “yes”. The reporter, a senior in the field, told his colleagues, it could be potassium nitrate. Suddenly, the other reporters started dialling police officers to check the components of the explosive. It was just 10:45 am, just 30 minutes into the blast and officials were at the spot for 15 minutes. Experts were not there. Without confirmation from a police officer, the story was ran by a reporter and he was later heard telling his colleagues, this Deputy Commissioner of Police told me this information.

(written on september 7,2011 evening after a bomb exploded outside delhi high court. finalised the version two days later)

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LaLOO yADAV

laloo yadav promised a dream and delivered a nightmare…he inherited the mess and contributed chaos to it like a typhoon visiting the ravages of a quake and mangling in the remains

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