Readers and well wishers often caution us that we should not get too obsessed with Veerappan, but the temptation to react to the brigand’s broadsides broadcast through his pet press is so overpowering. Be it the brigand media, now represented by two close contenders of the yellow hue, who all the same see moustache to moustache with the bandit or those of our ilk who dread the very prospect of the wanted outlaw joining the mainstream a la Phoolan, neither can afford to ignore him. In a way Mr. V has come to dominate much of the satellite time as well as newsprint, whether we like it or not, and in these columns his subject is very much a default setting whenever there is nothing else to write about. Thank you, Mr. V for helping editordom earn its bread and butter.
The recent update is indeed quite revealing of the brigand’s confidence in the power of the press. Why does he choose only mediamen for anything and everything? Says he: ‘If I send my men directly to the police, either to deliver cassettes or to surrender, they are most likely to be harassed by the authorities. But if my men are in the company of journalists, no one can lay his hands on them for fear of offending the media. Also, their safety and wellbeing will be ensured and any untoward happening (to my men) would promptly be reported and brought to people’s attention’. The bandit’s bid to use them as a condom does not infuriate the media. Rather, such words of wisdom coming from the concealed lips of the century’s greatest media obsession is being treated as the ultimate encomium and certainly seem to entitle the beneficiaries of these showers of praise to the coveted Pulitzer. Rather, a former DGP, who cannot be mistaken for being senile, made this very same suggestion a few months back, but cynics like us shot down the proposal.
We are now rueing our indiscretion for had we taken his counsel seriously, the state would now be the proud home of not one but two Pulitzer winners, not to speak of the plethora of editors lying in wait to grab it. It now becomes the bounden duty of the the entire fraternity to rise as one man to say three cheers to the jungle god for granting us salvation and lending a meaning to our very existence besides enlightening us on what press freedom is all about. If only we had such protagonists in civilisation too the profession would have become the most ‘rewarding’ one. Our prayers will probably be answered if and when the brigand joins the mainstream. No wonder editors are drawn to Veerappan like fish to water. After all, it makes sense to serve someone who respects you and your vocation. But for those who were longing for the brigand’s incursion into the concrete jungles, there is bad news.
They may have to wait for another two and a half decades, if one were to lend credence to the dubbed version of the brigand’s latest message to civilisation through his original emissary. Notwithstanding the lack of sync between the brigand’s known voice and his present tone, (blame it on either emotion or a sore throat), it now appears that we had better be prepared for another prolonged period of the cat and mouse charade, with the mouse proving smarter. The brigand has scotched all rumours about his surrender and has instead emphatically announced that he is all set to begin a new innings in the thickets which may last till its silver jubilee. The real rub lies in the fact that the brigand is so confident that the authorities cannot nail him even during his planned second stint, which no doubt speaks volumes about those on his trail. Not wholly misplaced confidence on his part, though, as events, past and present would bear out.
Besides, we have the expert opinion of Emissary No.1 that the brigand can never be caught. And talking of E.No 1, his glee at the vindication of his claims, is understandable. After all he is the original patent holder of the jungle map. that details the brigand’s hideout, besides holding the exclusive PR, audio and video rights for whatever the brigand utters and acts out. And with Mr.V’s brief affair with another journo (E No: 2) now becoming a thing of the past what with the brigand himself expressing his firm fidelity to No.1, the latter’s enthusiasm in sharing the good news with his fraternity is only expected. All said, moustaches are thicker than water and the affinity cannot be simply wished away by jealous journos like us, who are under the ‘misconception’ that helping to nab the brigand, would be a greater service to the country. But then one swallow does not make a summer and it is prudent to fall in line.
The media experts and associations can now set about amending the provisions of the various acts relating to the media to redefine press freedom as Mr.V has demonstrated and can pass a few resolutions to include a brigand’s freedom to kill and his right to poach within the purview of that all pervading right to expression. Also, they can all, at this hour of glory, resolve to not only extend protection, but also air the views of such outlaws as if they are your in-laws. The State on its part, would remain a silent spectator to all these media escapades out of fear of the power of the press, (courtesy: Mr.V), and the authorities, from the CM to CS to CoP would be content with listening to and viewing the latest releases of Vanakkam Veerappan, which we learn, they enjoy. The people meanwhile have no choice but to remain mute spectators to these sordid dramas as outlaws make hay while the Rising Sun shines brighter and brighter over the shady jungles and its shadier inhabitants.
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