Exposé or Entrapment?

Given the fact that Indian hockey is on its deathbed, KPS Gill and K. Jothikumaran being the two people responsible for the state of affairs, I doubt if anyone sympathizes with Jothi after the Aaj Tak exposé yesterday. But with the credibility problem that plagues the Indian media, I find myself unable to take their word at face value, particularly when the entire Indian media made a non-existent connection between a ‘cut’ for organizing a tournament and ‘cash-for-cap’.

If anyone has spent the hour or so that is required to see Aaj Tak’s patriotic production, it would soon be apparent that the two installments of a lakh rupees each that Jothi collected was part of the ‘seed money’ (euphemism for bribe) for his role in organizing an international tournament in India featuring the Indian men’s hockey team. Now that he had been reeled in, the reporters began pushing him to include a hockey player whose name they had selected randomly (and have thankfully kept anonymous) in the team for the multi-nation Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia the second week of May onwards. Jothi keeps on saying that he cannot do that because he does not control the selection. But finally, over a period of time, the player’s name is included in the list, which Jothi confirms over a phone call to one of the reporters. Note that he has not accepted any money for the same.

At best, while the ‘cut’ for holding a tournament in India can be called a bribe, the inclusion of the player can be no more than a case of indirect nepotism. This is what makes the case for entrapment strong. While Jothi is himself responsible for the mess he finds himself in, the question that needs to be asked is would he have included the player in the Indian team for cash if he had not been approached for organizing a tournament as the reporters did, but purely for the said purpose? It is my view that the only reason he did get the player into the list was because he was subjected to intense pressure from the reporters, which he succumbed to because he had already taken money from them.

This brings up a question on the very idea of stings and exposés. What happens if a line is crossed? What happens, for example, if prostitutes are supplied, as Tehelka did with the West End sting of 2001, or if the target’s personal life is used against him to make him do things he would not otherwise have done, but this is never recorded or mentioned? And what happens if there are ulterior motives at play, as in the case of the poor Delhi school teacher who was framed? With the gross commercialization of media to such an extent that the line between fact and fiction has been erased, I am afraid that one day, if editors are not careful, an innocent person is going to find himself in jeopardy, and this time round, the courts might not be able to save him.

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