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Hema Malini's statement may seem in bad taste, but is it wrong?

Durga M Sengupta | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:48 IST

On 2 July, BJP MP and actress Hema Malini's car collided with an Alto near Dausa, Rajasthan. The actress sustained a gash on her forehead and a nasal fracture. Of the five passengers in the Alto, two are critically injured and a five year old girl lost her life.

The actress, on Wednesday, reacted to the accident for the first time, and said that it could have been avoided had the other driver followed traffic rules.

Himashu Khandelwal, whose car collided with Malini's, has responded sharply to her statement. "What traffic rule did I break? Was I speeding? Her car was at 150 plus speed. She is a big name but must at least think before speaking."

The incident has generated a lot of talk across media. And yet, we seem to have missed the point. India's roads are one of the most dangerous in the world. An average of more than 4 lakh accidents is registered every year.

However, the only time we seem to sit up and take note is when a celebrity is involved.

Traffic rules?

Everyone wants to know who broke the rules. Eye witnesses said, the Alto was entering the highway from a side road when the cars collided. However, some reports claim that the car was being driven in the wrong direction. Permissible speed limit on national highways is 85kmph, but it is common for cars to speed upto 100-120kmph. That Hema Malini's Mercedes was over-speeding, is more or less a given.

The victim's father had earlier mentioned in a statement that the child was sitting in her mother's lap. Of the children who die in India every day, 16 lose their lives as passengers of motor vehicles. The process to make Child Restraint System (CRS) compulsory was introduced in 2014. However, nothing concrete has come of it, as yet.

'Hema Malini never enquired about our child.'

The accident occurred around 9pm on 2 July. After the crash, Hema Malini, her driver, and two of her aides, were taken to Jaipur in a passer-by's car. The family was enraged by the fact that the actress did not even enquire about their condition. Morally, as an MP and as the owner of the car, she should have helped the family. But those of us who have been in a situation like this, know that self-preservation comes as the first instinct.

Media's VIP-racism

Immediately after the accident, all attention was on the actress. A media circus had assembled outside the Fortis Hospital in Jaipur. As the actress walked in, frenzied camerapersons breathlessly took shots of her blood soaked face. Had she been left on the road in an injured state, it is unlikely that either party could've reached help on time.

While we accuse Hema Malini of VIP apathy, could we, perhaps be accused of VIP racism?

First published: 14 February 2017, 6:48 IST
Durga M Sengupta @the_bongrel

Feminist and culturally displaced, Durga tries her best to live up to her overpowering name. She speaks four languages, by default, and has an unhealthy love for cheesy foods. Assistant Editor at Catch, Durga hopes to bring in a focus on gender politics and the role in plays in all our interactions.