Kathputli Colony Demolition: A Classist, Voyeuristic Media Circus

Posted by Simran Keshwani in Society
November 4, 2017

Delhi’s Kathputli colony only has 70 houses standing as we speak, which has been a result of the enforced and sudden eviction citing a 2009 Redevelopment Project under a public-private partnership between DDA and Raheja Developers Ltd.

I have been working on this story very closely and have a few things to say. Perhaps the subaltern subject will always offer porous ground to be theorised ‘on’, to be looked at with a voyeuristic gaze that somehow borders on ‘benevolent’ sympathy. We are not alien to making a plaything of somebody’s tragedy.

Friends working on the site — please stop harassing these people and asking them how they feel. There is little difference between fascists and us journalists, for there is no semblance of humanity in our inherently privileged faces.

Regimes of violence do not operate in a closed diorama, there is always de-humanising and a complete breakdown of the individuality of the subject before it occupies centre stage as the object.

If the State brands them as ‘collateral damage’ to pass off gigantic projects of development, we look at them as easy fodder for our documentaries and headlines.

Picture from a source’s visit to Kathputli colony to tell you what’s left of the place and this is the ground where all the constant questions are thrown in the air. Consent/compliance to reply is a joke.

Colleagues I have long respected and who happen to be many years ahead of me (I risk my career in typing this) are the first in the queue to harass these people and badger them with hundreds of questions while impatiently waiting for juicy marketable angst and answers. This is a common trend whenever the blood of the impoverished is commodified and sold cheap – rethink Rohingya documentaries.

A complete erasure of the impoverished subject (and a subsequent ugly reification) is somehow central to all of the media pontificating about ‘structural inequality and the development paradox’ while masquerading as honest journalists.

Let’s please get some journalistic integrity and stop hounding these people.

Going into a basti and visiblising it through a fancy Facebook post and Instagram caption may be your idea of ‘into the wild’, but at the helm of it — it is a farce.

I do not have the heart to capture somebody’s moment of collapse and refuse to engage in this clinically engineered media circus.

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