The Human Rights Day this year was special in India. On this day, while the nation celebrated the acquittal of Salman Khan, the Bollywood actor who had appealed against his conviction by the sessions court in a 13-year-old hit-and-run case in the Bombay High Court-the conviction of three accused in gangraping a middle-aged Anglo-Indian woman in a posh Kolkata area in 2012 went largely uncovered.
While newspapers gave prominent spaces to what was being termed as "end of Salman's ordeal" in their editions, coverage of Suzette's case was a distant second. The same went with the electronic media as well.
The two developments in two opposite ends of the country exposed the inherent hypocrisy of the Indian society. The noisy media of the country should have given more focus on the Park Street gangrape case verdict and not the actor's acquittal but the reality that unfolded backed the hero of the fancy world.
Three reasons why the Suzette case is important
The Suzette case is significant for a number of reasons that merited a comprehensive coverage.
First, the verdict came nine months after Suzette passed away. Not many victims of such trauma get justice (even through the main accused is still absconding) in this country, forget posthumously.
Suzette's rape case is perhaps the most talked about one after the infamous Delhi gangrape case of December 2012 that had taken the country by storm.
But yet, Suzette never had the privilege of remaining in the headlines like the victim of the Delhi case.
The conviction by a Kolkata court certainly gives a fillip to the fight against atrocities against women in the country, something that surprisingly still hasn't emerged as a pressing political issue in this country.
But the mainstream media chose to focus on another issue just because it loves to milk the 'glamour' factor. Afterall, Page 3 is the new Page 1 of the Indian media.
Secondly, the Suzette case is special for it the conviction gave a befitting reply to the insensitive nature of our politicians, irrespective of the gender. We all know how the woman, a mother of two, was insulted openly, including by Bengal's chief minister who was not even a year-old in office, and others.
While Mamata Banerjee said it was a "sajano ghatona" (a cooked up story), one of her woman MPs even suggested that Suzette was a sex worker and the rape happened because of a dispute with the client. Even an efficient woman police officer, who had cracked the case, was shunted from her post as a fallout.
The conviction, hence, speaks volumes about the our politicians who remain blind to everything else while suffering from an insecurity complex.
Banerjee was also seen targetting the protesters in another gangrape case in her state as agents of the Opposition CPI(M), which reveals the state of security the common citizens, particularly women, enjoy under her administration.
With a few months ahead of the Assembly polls, this conviction in Suzette case would have enough potential to make an impact. The question arises: Are the Opposition and media interested?
Thirdly, Suzette, in a move which can be called unprecedented in a crippled socio-psychological order that India presents, had come out in the open to boldly interact with the outer world. She attended public events, became a women's rights activist herself and even counselled others to give them strength. And she did all this only after overcoming the acute pain and depression she herself had gone through.
The real-life hero stood firm, not the reel-life
The woman, who died of meningoencephalitis in March this year at the age of 40, did not allow the media to manufacture a juicy headline by breaking down in the public just as Salman Khan did on a couple of occasions.
The lesson that lies therein is massive: A real-life hero remains firm while a reel-life one gets emotionally shaken when facing a real threat.
Why Salman beat Suzette in media
And finally, a word or two about us Indians. No matter how politically correct we try to be in sensitive matters, the bottom line is that we never live up to the expectations in matters that seriously matter. Salman Khan's acquittal became a bigger news because the idea of 'glamour' overshadowed that of 'justice' in public space.
Even the best of the editors could not overlook the temptation of giving full-page or real-time coverage to the 13-year-old case that saw a few pavement dwellers getting crushed under the wheels of a swanky SUV.
The dragging on the case even led to jokes about Salman Khan's "driverless" or "drunk" car running on footpaths. The episode continued to entertain the common man, from a happy or sad angle, and all that because it involved a celebrity.
Suzette also fell behind because her case did not have the 'national' tag. It is an unwritten law in Indian that an incident, in order to make an impact no matter how serious it is, must be in the focus of the national media.
For an unfortunate woman with self-dignity in a place where people call themselves "politically and otherwise aware", the case remained a local one, despite inspiring an incredible story.
We also must remember that Suzette Jordan was not only insulted by the political rulers but also by the same society to which she belonged. She was denied job opportunities, entry to restaurants and received threat calls.
The hypocrisy is unbelievable.