01/09/2016 8:57 AM IST | Updated 23/01/2017 11:04 PM IST

Can ABP News And Kejriwal Please Explain What Exactly Is Sandeep Kumar's Crime?

With sex scandal video, ABP News plunges the depths of yellow journalism.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
File photo of former Delhi Social Welfare Minister Sandeep Kumar.

They called it sex scandal but didn't explain what was so scandalous about a man and a woman having sex. That's what men and women do.

Here is an English translation of how ABP news introduced the scene of crime:

"The sex tape of Kejriwal government's women and child development minister begins with this room. The state of the room doesn't suggest it is a minister's room. The room has a cupboard (actually they are shelves) and the cupboard has books. One part of the cupboard (shelf) is broken. There's a calendar hanging on the wall. The calendar needs to be pointed out (with a big, red bobbing arrow) because the calendar could prove to be a big clue in this sex scandal (meanwhile, the calendar is hidden by the ABP news logo). There's an ordinary mattress with a sheet on it. Delhi's cabinet minister Sandeep Kumar is about to enter the room with a minister. Minister Sandeep Kumar is wearing a red-coloured half-pant (a shirtless man enters the frame). And the woman is wearing a green dress. The woman is old and perhaps married. Look at this, minister Sandeep Kumar has entered. (Freeze frame, close up shot of Sandeep Kumar's shirtless torso.)"

They go off from the sex video now, saying they can't show you the rest of the nine minute video as it is "very objectionable" and also against the "modesty of a woman". They tell you how they could have showed the video by blurring the images but decided not to do so as they are a responsible channel. But they want you to listen to what they say is the alleged voice of the minister from toward the end of the video.

They also tell you how there are 11 pictures of the minister with another woman. No, they are separate incidents, but the room, they say, is probably the same.

"Where is this place? Who made this video and shot these pictures and why? Is this video even authentic? We don't know."

That big red bobbing arrow looks like it is humping the bolster. They play an audio where a male voice says, "Don't come during the day. And don't talk about this on the road."

"ABP News will keep looking for the answers to the questions you have for this sex video."

Privacy and consent

The channel kept say the video was objectionable, but failed to explain what exactly was objectionable about it. Was it not consensual? Was it rape? Was there violence?

The channel received the CD anonymously along with a letter that said its contents were objectionable. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal summarily dismissed the minister on Twitter. Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia used words like corruption, crime, principles, character and zero tolerance, but failed to explain what crime Mr Sandeep Kumar committed.

ABP news went on an on, self-righteously telling you how they had the CD in their possession, what the CD contains, that there are not one but two women, but what exactly was the crime?

Is it the minister's fault he was secretly filmed in private consensual sexual acts? The channel said it wasn't even able to verify the authenticity of the CD but one of their reporters, Jainendra Kumar, tweeted that the video was from Sandeep Kumar's college days, and not from the time since he became minister. The tweet was later deleted, but there is a screenshot.


AAP took the moral high-ground for sacking their minister in no time. As a result, on Twitter, members and supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party joined those of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party in condemning Sandeep Kumar.

Former Delhi Congress chief JP Agarwal told ABP News that this was a black day for democracy. Perhaps he was talking about Indira Gandhi's Emergency when men were being forcibly sterilised so they couldn't reproduce. He was certainly not thinking about one of his party's spokespersons who was similarly filmed secretly in a private consensual sex act. Congress supporters on Twitter could not explain why they first dropped him as spokesperson and then reinstated him.

Probity in public life, morality, character, adultery, and other big words were used. We don't even know if the women in the video and the photos were married. Perhaps she is married, said ABP news. We don't even know if Sandeep Kumar was married when the video was made. In other words, we don't even know if the sexual activity in these images amounts to extra-marital affair or adultery.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
File photo of former AAP MLA Sandeep Kumar taking oath as Minister in Delhi at Ramlila Ground on February 14, 2015 in New Delhi, India.

No evidence of wrongdoing

Incidentally, the stupid and patriarchal adultery law kicks in only if the husband of the woman complaints. So if the women he was having sex with were not married, or of their husbands don't press charges, there is no case of adultery.

Even if there is adultery, is it really a public issue? Whoever Sandeep Kumar chooses to have consensual sex with, how does it affect his work as an elected legislator and women and child minister?

On Twitter, critics went on an on about the irony of him being women minister. Are we implying that women can't choose to have consensual sex with a minister? What exactly is the crime against women he has committed?

It is ridiculous for his own party to equate private consensual sex with corruption. Is there any evidence of quid pro quo? Were the women his subordinates and he bullied them into having sex with him? Did he promise them jobs? Did he give their families any contracts to supply stationery to his ministry?

It is ridiculous for his own party to equate private consensual sex with corruption.

There is absolutely no allegation, leave alone evidence, of any such wrong-doing. If there's any wrong doing it's on the part of whoever invaded Sandeep Kumar's privacy, made images of his sexual activities, and sent them to ABP news.

Worst of all, there was no newsworthiness, no public interest in ABP News telling us about the CD. Their managing editor Milind Khandekar said on Twitter that they had asked Kumar for his version. But why was this a story in the first place? He had no answer. ABP News has indulged in the worst kind of yellow journalism, destroying a politician's career by invading his privacy for no rhyme or reason.

The Aam Aadmi Party has chosen political expediency over principles in firing Sandeep Kumar without even giving him time to explain himself. If the AAP cared about principles, they would have asked: what exactly is the crime committed here?

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