Actor Sonam Kapoor and filmmakers Anurag Kashyap and Mira Nair are among over two thousand people who have signed an open letter condemning the media's "witch-hunt" of Rhea Chakraborty in the coverage of Sushant Singh Rajput's death investigation.
Film personalities including Frieda Pinto, Zoya Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar, Alankrita Shrivastava, Gauri Shinde, Reema Kagti, Ruchi Narain, Rasika Dugal, Nitya Mehra, Amruta Subhash, Mini Mathur, Dia Mirza, Kubbra Sait and others have also signed the letter that asks the media to "hunt news, not women".
Chakraborty has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with drugs-related allegations in the death case of Rajput. The 34-year-old actor was found dead at his Bandra residence on June 14.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the NCB is probing the drug case in which 18 people including Chakraborty, her brother Showik Chakraborty, Rajput's manager Samuel Miranda, domestic help Dipesh Sawant and others have been arrested.
The open letter, addressed to "the dear news media of India" is published on a blog called Feminist Voices and it has over 2,500 signatories from all walks of life.
"Dear news media of India. We are worried about you. Are you feeling ok? "Because, as we watch your witch-hunt of Rhea Chakraborty, we cannot understand why you have abandoned every professional ethic of journalism, every tenet of human decency and dignity and chosen instead to physically assault a young woman with your camera crews, endlessly violate her privacy and work overtime on false accusations and moralistic innuendo for a drama of 'Rhea ko phasao'," the letter reads.
The letter calls out the media for being "obsessed" with creating the narrative of a young woman as a "morally dubious character" because she speaks up for herself instead of "acting like a damsel in distress".
Drawing parallels about the coverage of cases of actors Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, the letter urged the media to show the same kindness and respect to Chakraborty that it had shown to these actors.
"We know you can be different - because we have seen you be kind and respectful to the Salman Khans and Sanjay Dutts of this world, urging us to think of their families, fans and careers," the letter said asking why the media had "assassinated" Chakraborty's character and egged an online mob against her and her family.
"It is easy to victimise a young woman because there are so many people who already disbelieve, slut-shame and abuse women, for their smallest freedoms. It is certainly cheaper than doing actual stories about a host of issues from GDP to health, currently confronting us," the letter further said.
Citing the disturbing rise in domestic violence during the pandemic, the letter condemned the media for promoting damaging stereotypes of "vishkanyas" and "dayans" while trivialising depression and perpetuating regressive stereotypes about mental health.
"We write to ask you, the news media, to stop this unfair witch-hunt of Rhea Chakraborty and to stop fuelling moral polarities of good women to be deified and bad women to be crucified which endangers all women. We write to ask you to do the right and responsible thing. Your jobs. Hunt news, not women," the letter added.