Mug shots of December 16 gang-rape and murder convicts — bus cleaner Akshay Thakur, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, fruit-seller Pawan Gupta and unemployed Mukesh Singh — occupied top news slots across the world, even surpassing the Syrian crisis, after they were sentenced to death.
The presence of foreign media swarming the streets outside the court was indicative that the world has been keenly following the trial proceedings of the case.
Los Angeles Times correspondent Mark Magnier, who was part of the milieu on Friday, said the case kept the rest of the world so interested since it was a “turning point” for India as it grappled with women’s issues. “Turning points always drive news,” he said, “especially since the other side to it was the ‘shining’ India posters, the ‘Incredible India campaigns’ and the meditation retreats.”
The case had many dimensions, said Mr. Magnier. “Political, caste, rural-urban divide, migration, male patriarchy all of which encompasses a lot of different issues in India”.
In July, the Delhi High Court had allowed only three international news agencies — Reuters, AP and AFP — to cover the trial proceedings after a petition was put forth by a group of foreign correspondents and members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club seeking review of the March 22 order allowing only the national media to cover the day-to-day trial of the case. However, the Court did not allow independent foreign journalists to do so.
But on the sultry Friday afternoon, on which Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna read out the verdict, tongues wagged in different languages outside the courthouse. Spanish, Dutch and Korean competed with Tamil, Telugu, English and Malayalam, all keen on spreading the news to their part of the world.
Yet, Mr. Magnier was perhaps the only one who had “two minutes” to speak to The Hindu. The others, newspersons from the Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation), The New York Times, AP, AFP and CNC News, chased the “real news” and were busy collecting bytes from lawyers, demonstrators and especially the public, who have been calling for the death penalty over the last nine months.