Aryan Khan, arrested in drugs case, at the NCB office after a medical check-up, in Mumbai on 6 October 2021 | Photo: ANI
Aryan Khan, arrested in drugs case, at the NCB office after a medical check-up, in Mumbai on 6 October 2021 | Photo: ANI
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It’s difficult to say what was more ridiculous or deplorable. The minute-by-minute commentary on the Aryan Khan probe or the false bravado of TV news channels before Pakistan humbled India at the T20 World Cup?

You decide.

Indian news channels played their version of Patriot Games. ‘Pakistan will lose again’, gloated Zee Hindustan, Sunday, hours before the ‘El Clasico’ (CNN News18 India) in Dubai. ‘Will Pakistanis smash TVs again?’ asked its sister channel, Zee News, sarcastically. In the T20 World Cup match, they smashed the Indian bowlers all around the ground and into the stands – which only makes such remarks all the more ludicrous.

‘India will win,’ crowed youngsters in Patna said to News Nation. ‘Thrash Pakistan,’ demanded Indian teenagers in Dubai (Bharat Samachar), ‘India 5 Pak 0,’ bragged CNN News18 India, reminding its viewers that Pakistan had never beaten India at a T20 World Cup match, but as Justin Bieber once sang, ‘Never Say Never’.

Former cricketers like Virender Sehwag, ‘Turbanator’ Harbhajan Singh (ABP News), and a galaxy of other stars on India Today claimed India was the better side and favourites to win. ABP News was so sure it celebrated the victory in advance with a music band belting out rousing songs.

A word of caution came from an unlikely source: Anis Sajan, businessman and a cricket crazy connoisseur. This is ‘the best chance for them to beat us,’ he said on NDTV 24×7. And so it came to pass.

When cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle announced Pakistan’s win with ‘This is the moment…’ (Star Sports), band, baja aur bakwas fell silent. Viewers were informed of India’s defeat in simple breaking news headlines: Pakistan beats India.

In the Star Sports commentary box, Bhogle and Sunil Gavaskar, like Virat Kohli on the field, was gallant in defeat. ‘What a beauty!’ Sunil bhai exclaimed when Rohit Sharma and K.L. Rahul were ‘bamboozled’ by Afridi 2.0 – left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi.

News channels, never known for their graciousness towards Pakistan, picked on whatever crumbs they could find and chewed on them, hard: the disgraceful attacks on Indian cricketer Mohammed Shami aroused Arnab Goswami’s patriotic instincts on ‘The Debate’ – ‘Trolling campaign against Mohd Shami orchestrated from Islamabad’ (Republic TV),  Zee News saw it as Pakistan ‘ki chaal’, ‘Pak communalises cricket match,’ said Times Now.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis disgraced himself and the spirit displayed by the Pakistan team at the T20 match by his comments on ARY TV that Pakistan batsman Mohammad Rizwan’s namaz ‘amongst Hindu was very, very special to me’. Ugh.

 Also read: Shah Rukh Khan is playing most difficult role – a good parent and impeccable public figure

Non-stop Aryan Khan updates

Back in Mumbai, we’ve watched news channels make sport of the Aryan Khan drugs case.

First, we’re informed of every move made by Aryan Khan’s ‘legal eagle’ (India TV) Mukul Rohatgi – ‘Rohatgi reaches Mumbai’ (India Today), ‘Rohatgi enters court’ (CNN News18 India), ‘Rohatgi says…’ (er, what did Rohatgi eat for lunch?). Or of absurdities like ‘Hearing to begin shortly’ (ABP News), ‘Shortly hearing to resume’ (Times Now) and ‘NCB’s Sameer Wankhede arrives in Delhi’, ‘Sameer Wankhede arrives at Narcotics Control Bureau HQ’, ‘First on Republic, Sameer Wankhede leaves for court’ (Wednesday). There was also ‘Matter 23 being heard now’… ‘Standby for Aryan bail plea hearing in HC’ (Republic TV ). Don’t you experience the irresistible urge to shout, ‘Oh do sit down, and be quiet’?

Then there were the mystery men of the ‘nasha, paisa, underworld’ (Zee News) saga – K.P. Gosavi and his bodyguard Prabhakar Sail – the first missing until he spoke to each and every news channel to tell them he was about to surrender on Tuesday while the latter spoke of signing blank pages of his testimony at Sameer Wankhede’s behest and extortion demands by NCB officials. Ooh la la, as the French would say.

A Times Now exclusive expose on Wednesday called Gosavi a ‘fraudster’ but after watching three days continuous coverage on the two men, do you know who exactly they are and their standing in the Khan case?

Next, the WhatsApp chats that suddenly made an appearance across news channels, Tuesday, just before the Bombay High Court took up Aryan Khan’s bail plea. Times Now, claimed ‘under a cloud NCB leaks’ the Aryan and Ananya Panday chats. This led NDTV 24×7 reporter in Mumbai to ask, ‘Apart from WhatsApp chats, what do they (NCB) have?’ What indeed.

We’ve also been subjected to the Nationalist Congress Party’s Nawab Malik levelling grave charges against the NCB and Wankhede, allowing channels to go with headlines such as the catchy ‘NCP v/s NCB’  (Republic TV) or ‘Aghadi versus Narco Bureau’ (Times Now).

 Also read: NCP’s Malik & NCB’s Wankhede keep butting heads — now with ‘extortion’ letter & proofs of caste

Malik’s charge that Wankhede faked his birth certificate – he was Muslim but said he was a Hindu – saw channels like Zee News and India TV at their investigative best: they questioned and cross questioned the Qazi, Wankhede’s father and his wife Kranti on how come his ‘nikaah’ took place if he was a Hindu (as claimed in birth certificate) and didn’t seem satisfied with the reply that his mother was Muslim and it was done to please her.

Wankhede’s sister also allowed herself to be dragged into the controversy as she protested her brother’s innocence (News18 India) and accused the media of  ‘media trial’ (Aaj Tak).

Cricket, ‘bail or jail’, as English news channels loved to call the Aryan case—what would you rather watch on the news?

Did you say, neither?

Views are personal.

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