Enough! No sooner did the news of the arrest of Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan arrive — till the time he was only detained, the media was reluctant to divulge the name — the public relations companies hired by Bollywood biggies went into overdrive, expressing solidarity with the ‘beleaguered’ star. This has happened time and again. In recent memory, more so because the electronic media was coming of age then, it started at the time of Sanjay Dutt’s arrest for the first time in the 1990s under the now-defunct TADA. It was repeated while Salman Khan was booked for allegedly mowing down some pavement dwellers and then shooting endangered blackbucks while shooting for Hum Saath Saath Hain. Last year witnessed panellists recruited and fielded by the PR companies shamelessly defending Karan Johar’s nepotism and probable Dubai connection linked, in turn, to Salman Khan’s protege Sooraj Pancholi who was suspected to have played a role in the mysterious death of Sushant Singh Rajput. And now the nation witnesses a recurrence of the PR exercise with the arrest of Aryan Khan. So powerful is this machinery that the leading newspaper of India shamelessly publishes an editorial that goes to the extent of seeking an amendment in the NDPS Act to mitigate the guilt of the Khan son. The propaganda machinery that was devised with the advent of a communist union of artistes called IPTA has been fully functional for the past few decades, increasingly in acts of defending their own skin while their old agenda of defaming Hinduism is still up and running. There is reason to suspect that the Urdu film industry is so powerful that, even as separate investigations are initiated by three central agencies into the death of Rajput, the NCB alone makes news while the CBI, probing whether it was murder, and the ED, examining whether there was a money-laundering connection, go deafeningly silent. A dubious industry pushing a jihadi agenda cannot be allowed to wantonly influence even the law of the land.
The defence of the guilty furthered by Bollywood props goes to brazen extents like counting the good deeds of Sunil Dutt while judging his son, showing Salman performing Ganapati Puja to impress Hindus and, now, like Hizb ul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani’s crime was sought to be lessened by the mention that his father was a humble school teacher, the nation is being reminded that Khan Jr is merely 23-year-old. Never mind that the age is well past the juvenile bracket and never mind that javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra went into a diametrically opposite trajectory at the same age, doing the nation proud with another individual Olympic gold. For heavens, younger men have laid down their lives in the line of duty for India on the battlefield and while fighting insurgents. Yes, it is biologically expected that one goes berserk in adolescence when hormones kick in. But that rebellion has given the nation freedom fighters like Khudiram Bose and Bhagat Singh. What makes Aryan Khan’s ‘revolt’ so special that he should be caught with contraband? Is it a callous father who had remarked when Aryan was a toddler that the son can “do drugs”? It was not a comment made in a lighter vein, as there is a line a parent ought not cross. Thankfully, the nation also has an army of awakened masses on social mediums who blow the lame defences to smithereens with their posts, videos and memes.
What is of concern here is that the legal framework of the country has time and again failed to serve the accused from Bollywood their just deserts. Like politicians, stars, starlets and star kids get away with murder — sometimes literally. The sorry commentary is not on the courts, though, which cannot give judgments surpassing the evidence and arguments of the prosecution. The miserable death of the eyewitness in Salman Khan’s hit-and-run case, constable Ravindra Patil, as a forgotten cop indicts the men in khaki who bend the rules before the matter reaches a judge. Mumbai Police being as hamhanded in the investigation into the death of Disha Salian as the department was in the case of Rajput showed that the force is compromised. Except when a member of the Bollywood mafia is too insignificant, like Reshma/Laila Patel/Khan, or when one is backed by none, as in the case of Shiney Ahuja, the police struggle to get to the truth. The situation calls for an overhaul of our system.