Justice In Peepli By News World India And The New York Times

| October 3 , 2017 , 15:48 IST

A heinous murder that was committed a year and a half ago in Peepli Khera village located in Meerut Tehsil, was brought to justice by News World India team recently on September 16, 2017. This came about less than a month after the murder was publicly reported for the first time by New York Times journalist Ellen Barry on 19 August 2017.  

A year and a half ago - during the last week of her deputation by her employer in India - Journalist Barry had learnt of the murder of Geeta, that had been instead reported by the police as an accidental fall from the stairs. She found out that Geeta was clubbed to death with a stick by Mukesh who was Geeta’s husband in the shower area of their home, and that many of the villagers had been silent onlookers of the crime. The very next day Mukesh had remarried another woman, taking his new wife on a motorbike ride all over the village. Barry immediately went about making a thorough investigation. She spoke to witnesses, the murderer and all others involved in the case, including Geeta’s mother and son. Mukesh himself openly declared to Barry that he had indeed murdered Geeta, and Barry recorded his statement on a tape recorder. In this way, she collected evidence of the murder. Armed with evidence and testimonials of witnesses she spoke to the local police, telling them that the death of Geeta was no accident and that the murderer Mukesh must be accosted.

Despite Barry’s best efforts, no action against the murderer was taken. She found that Mukesh’s family had bribed the senior officers in the police station, alongside a vigorous effort by the village chief to persuade Geeta’s widowed mother, a day labourer from a village 30 miles away, to withdraw murder charges. The evidence and witnesses of the murder were futile, in the face of the police’s refusal to investigate. Discouraged, Barry left Peepli Khera, and the following week she flew out of India, unable to mete out justice to the deceased Geeta.

When Barry published the story of Geeta’s murder only last month, News World India picked up the case from where Barry had left it. News World India journalist Aariz Matloob travelled to Peepli Khera village and Meerut, the closest city, the met with police officials there. He pressurised the police at both places to take action against Mukesh. Simultaneously News World India TV channel aired the news several times a day, reporting to viewers the blatant inaction of the police despite Barry and Matloob’s efforts. The exposure of the case on television, aired to millions of viewers in India, added to the pressure on the police.

News World India succeeded, after a month-long effort, to convince the police to arrest Mukesh for his wife’s murder that he had committed a year and a half ago.

We at News World India are glad that justice was finally meted in this case. Yet we are saddened at the rampant frequency of such crimes in India, and the large number of criminals who get away, thanks to the despicable conscience of abetting local politicians, police forces, and crime witnesses. That is the war that India’s fourth estate - led by brave journalists such as Barry and Matloob - needs to fight. It would be a fight where media plays a far more active role in not just reporting a crime, but also facilitating justice. 

Click here to read the original New York Times article.