Watch full video: Reporting on Shraddha Walker murder: The case that shook India in 2022
The Shraddha case attracted intense media interest. It’s simple to lapse into
There was continual conflict between the woman in me and the reporter I am as I covered the case that rocked India and had the public spellbound for weeks. I strive to execute my work as a crime reporter every day, which entails overcoming preconceptions in order to report the news accurately.
But this instance was unique.
On December 14, reporters, photographers, and neighbors flocked to the crime scene with comments like, “Shraddha is so attractive,” “how did she live with that man,” “why wouldn’t she seek help,” and “was he blackmailing her to convert?”
The thriving Chattarpur neighborhood in South Delhi couldn’t comprehend how a 27-year-old woman was allegedly killed and cut by her boyfriend before being dumped in the nearby bush without anyone noticing. What’s more, how did he hack her up in a neighborhood with windows leading into houses next door?
The crime reporter in me had questions when I arrived at the scene that morning, but the lady in me kept suppressing the ideas. Shraddha Walkar was a lady who made the decision to love a man, left her family behind to live with him, and was now being talked about, stripped of all of her flesh. The public and the media demanded explanations for why she loved him. Some questioned why she tolerated the poisonous environment. That day, I screamed aloud several times in silence.
A TV reporter opened the window when I got to the floor of the house. I smelled something peculiar as I peered inside to see the stuff on the floor. Later that evening, while I was driving back from the field, I passed out. On that day, I had witnessed Aftab dozing off while being held by the cops.
My hands became cold as I sat on the porch of the adjacent building to write my account after speaking to a few neighbors. Her eyes glared back at me more and more as I glanced at her pictures.
We soon began referring to it as the “Shraddha murder case.”
Also see: Indians losing focus on facts as they become fixated on graphic details of the death of Shraddha Walker
The media coverage
Reporters are required to quote many accounts, assertions, and responses in relation to a story. But when it came to the “Shraddha murder case,” my “self” couldn’t stop speculating about Shraddha’s final moments. Did she resist before her body’s ability to breathe was taken away? Or was she in utter shock because the suspected murderer was her longtime romantic partner? After the murder, would Aftab have called Sharaddha to see whether she was still alive?
The imagination frequently wandered into areas that conjured violent, graphic pictures when the writer was writing or reporting on the case. But you need to step back and focus on your work. The most crucial editorial decision you can make as a reporter while covering such a horrific subject is to keep your composure.
The Shraddha case attracted intense media interest. When reporting on such cases, it’s tempting to fall into the “gorier, the better” fallacy. Voyeurism starts to take over. But you must constantly monitor your behavior.
The DCP South office was overrun with reporters over the course of the following few days, each seeking out some “new information.” Some people were only looking for catchy headlines. The narrative seemed to be taking a back seat.
Did he linger over her head in the refrigerator? asked a person. Another query was, “Did he take the head out to look at it?”
On the way home that day, in the car, I pondered what constitutes a “safe zone” for women in India and how the culture has made it challenging for women in “inappropriate relationships” and compelled many of them to fabricate stories to justify their actions.
The following morning, Shraddha had become just another “story” in the life of a journalist. The thoughts whirred in that manner.
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