Socialite and Soldier

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Three people are no longer with us. Two were killed and third one . . . well, we don’t know if the third one was murdered or committed suicide. What we do know is this: the third person has been in the news for a long, long time and may remain in there for the foreseeable future.

That third person is socialite Sunanda Pushkar, the Congress party member and MP Shashi Tharoor's wife. She was found dead, in a mysterious way, in a hotel in New Delhi on January 17, 2014. The Delhi police are investigating her death: was she killed or did she kill herself?

Since Sunanda’s death, just about every day, news media are carrying stories – corroborated or uncorroborated – about her last moments, her married life, her business connection, her family tree, her enemies, her friends, her tweets. Many display her pictures: magazines, newspapers, television programs, and websites. And let us admit it: we look at her photos – she was photogenic – and we read or listen to juicy gossip about her.

However, a very little has been said about the first two people: Colonel Munindra Nath Rai and Head Constable Sanjeev Singh. Both men died in the line duty in Tral, a town in the Pulwama district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Colonel Rai was awarded Yudh Seva Medal on our Republic Day, 26 January 2015, and was killed the next day. He was just 39 years old. He left behind wife, a son, and two daughters. Why not write more about Rai, his life, his family, his parents, his siblings, his in-laws?

Not much is known about Constable Singh. Why not write about him, his life, his family, his parents, his siblings, his in-laws (if married)?

Why not show these brave men’s photographs, more not less?

Family members of late Col Munindra Nath Rai being consoled by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during his visit to the martyr’s home in New Delhi. (PTI)Oh, yes, there is a picture of Defense Minister Parrikar extending his right arm, in a gesture, to comfort one of the Rai girls during his visit to the home of Rai family. His arm blocks the face of Mrs. Rai in the photograph. The children’s faces show grief. They want their father, not the Minister. Now mother is all, they know, they got. No man can ever become their daddy – just as no woman can ever become their mom.

Both Colonel Rai and Constable Singh gave their lives to protect the people from harm, to keep the peace in Tral, to guard Kashmir, to apprehend militants. This, media know.

Also, media know this: Sunanda brings readers and revenue, Rai and Singh don’t. And that says a lot about our society and our appetite for salacious stories and sensual photographs.


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