A question for KBC: Is your poster on abortion fake?

Rishi Raj’s father Rameshwar Kumar said: 'What is the point of winning? We were better off without this controversy.'

Written by Aditi Vatsa | Jhajjar | Published:August 23, 2014 3:53 am
Contestant Rishi Raj’s family in Madana Khurd. Contestant Rishi Raj’s family in Madana Khurd.

When a young man from a village in Haryana took the hot seat opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Kaun Banega Crorepati three days ago, no one in Madana Khurd cheered, not even when contestant Rishi Raj walked away with Rs 12 lakh as prize money.

Because on the show, a village called Madana in Jhajjar, the district with the lowest sex ratio in the country as per the 2011 census, was introduced as one where female foeticide and infanticide was still rampant.

To make the point, KBC even showed a board, purportedly in the village of Madana, which read “Abortion — Rs 500 + Medicine disposable extra. Get an abortion for Rs 500.”

The lower portion of the board was blurred in the video while a voice declared that “the writing on this board behind me says a lot of things”.

The Indian Express visited Madana Khurd and the adjoining Madana Kalan and found that no such board exists in either of the two villages. Nor do residents, including the family of contestant Rishi Raj, have any idea who were two of the three “residents of Madana” shown in the KBC video.

The third person in the video, Deep Chand, lives in Madana Khurd. He says he told the KBC team that female foeticide and infanticide was no longer practised in the village but “I am told they have not carried that statement”.

According to Rishi’s family, a KBC team visited the village a few days before the episode was recorded in a Mumbai studio on July 25.

Sukhbir Singh, Rishi’s brother-in-law who had accompanied him to Mumbai, told The Indian Express: “Two of the men in the video are not even from our village. A bearded man had come to the village with them. They may have been from another village.”

In the video, one of the two men says “in our place, no one wants a girl to be born because if a daughter is born, they will have to pay dowry. If it’s a son, they will bring dowry.” The second man says “if it is known that a girl will be born, it is aborted.”

On the show, host Amitabh Bachchan speaks on the practice of female foeticide. Contestant Rishi Raj says he has two daughters and he will use the prize money to educate them.

Both Madana Khurd and Madana Kalan feel aggrieved. Trilok Chand, head of the Madana Kalan panchayat, said: “The information given on the show is completely wrong. Tell us, where are those boards? I have not seen the show but I read about it in the newspapers. Why are these allegations being made against our village? There is an attempt to malign the village and the district. We are planning to approach the CMO to decide the next course of action.”

Madana Khurd counterpart Bani Singh agrees. “I don’t know where they got the board or poster from. I have only seen the poster in the papers. There is no such poster in our village, no such practice. I got a call from an official in the health department who was inquiring about this.”

Rishi Raj’s father Rameshwar Kumar said: “What is the point of winning? We were better off without this controversy.”

Located next to each other, Madana Kalan and Madana Khurd together have a population of 3,550 – 1,886 males and 1,664 females. Health department officials said boys up to the age of 1 number 28 and girls 26.

Ramesh Dhankar, Chief Medical Officer, Jhajjar, said: “This data was collected Thursday after a team of ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activist) and interns from PGIMS, Rohtak conducted a survey in the two villages.”

While acknowledging that the district had recorded one of the lowest child sex ratio in the country, Dhankar denied knowledge of any abortion-pill board or poster in the area.

Jhajjar Deputy Commissioner Chander Shekhar said teams visited the village to check but did not find any such board. “These things have been created for ratings. We accept that there is a problem and such things are happening but you cannot have such a board in the open. I have got fresh data from the CMO’s office… The sex ratio needs to improve and steps are being taken. But to cook up such a story is unfortunate,” he said.

When comments were sought from Sony Entertainment Television which hosts the KBC show, Gaurav Seth, the channel’s marketing head, said the matter had been brought to the notice of Siddhartha Basu, chairman and managing director of BIG Synergy Media Ltd which is the KBC production company, and that an investigation was underway. Basu did not respond to a questionnaire emailed to him.

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    Arshi Aggarwal
    Aug 23, 2014 at 9:26 am
    what a farce! I salute Indian Express' attempt to reveal the scripted nature of reality shows but c'mon people, do you think that all these villagers will accept the allegations? I am from Punjab and I know how rampant these practices are - everywhere, no village in specific is innocent, people talk about burden of dowry and aborting girl child like what's in the dinner! I would have liked the report if you had also conducted an investigation on what truly goes on in private medical insutions there rather than just reporting villagers' reaction, they are no beacon of truth!
    Reply
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      Pramod S
      Aug 23, 2014 at 9:16 am
      My question. Why would the criminals still leave the board out there in the open after it came to everyone's notice on the tv? The criminals would've had brought it down themselves the very night the show was telecasted.
      Reply
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        Satya Paul
        Aug 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm
        KBC, and Sidharth Basu, and Amitabh Bachchan should be sued in court of law for spreading wrong information.
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          Narayan
          Nov 15, 2014 at 9:07 am
          Once it has been aired on KBC why would they still keep the board on display. Grow up Aditi.
          Reply
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            jamdagni
            Aug 23, 2014 at 7:08 am
            why amitabh is going aamir's way.... Why dish out fake storie for trps....although good work by express to find truth
            Reply
            1. N
              Nationalist
              Aug 23, 2014 at 7:45 am
              WE THOUGHT KBC IS NOT SCRIPTED BUT THE PRESS REPORTS INDICATE OTHERWISE
              Reply
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                riya
                Aug 25, 2014 at 3:55 am
                exactly...just for money they edit the content.
                Reply
                1. R
                  riya
                  Aug 25, 2014 at 3:54 am
                  mere bhai ,toh fact toh thik dikhao.
                  Reply
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                    riya
                    Aug 25, 2014 at 3:56 am
                    the ratio has increased in the last one year.
                    Reply
                    1. R
                      riya
                      Aug 25, 2014 at 3:55 am
                      they give wrong information
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        Subhash
                        Aug 23, 2014 at 8:40 am
                        If this is true, it will be counter productive for KBC and will tend to tarnish the image of big B
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          sharma
                          Aug 23, 2014 at 7:36 pm
                          YOU GUYS HAVE SUCESSFULLY MANAGED TO TAKE AWAY FROM A SERIOUS ISSUE RAISED BY KBC AND AB. IT IS A FACT "female foeticide and infanticide" ARE VERY PREVALENT IN OUR COUNTRY. SO ADDING A TOUCH OF EMOTION AND DRAMA IS VERY NECESSARY PART OF TV PROGRAMS. THESE ARE ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMS GIING SMALL DOSES OF ADVICE AND INFO. NOBODY WOULD READ OR WATCH A DOENTARY ON THESE ISSUES ON TV.SO DONT KILL THE MESSAGE AND THE MESSENGER. BOTH ARE IMPORTANT.KEEP IT UP KBC. DOGS BARK BUT THE CRAVAN GOES ON. JUST UT A LABLE DRAMATISED VERSION OF ACTUAL FACTS.
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                            deepak
                            Aug 24, 2014 at 6:56 am
                            The question,here is really not about the message part. We all get that. The thing is why malign an entire village for the sake of TRP. We all have seen and loved shows like satyamev jayathe which I believe did the same work but with proper facts and not some,cooked,up stories. Nobody is killing the message nor the messenger but if such a trend prevails then a point will come when we wont know whats fabricated and whats real.
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                              hotdiscovery
                              Aug 24, 2014 at 3:06 pm
                              They are trying to become "Satyamev Jayate".
                              Reply
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                                Citizen
                                Aug 23, 2014 at 12:12 am
                                Shame on you KBC organizers if this is a fact!!!!! Jaihind
                                Reply
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                                  Vinayak
                                  Aug 24, 2014 at 12:22 am
                                  Shame on you Indian Express for what is clearly a eyeball grabbing trick. Instead of asking these questions to KBC why did you not ask the villagers that instead of being offended could they explain why the village had the worst male/female ratio in the entire country? Did you check what is the male/female ratio amongst infant kids in the village now - in 2014? Your people could go there and search for the board and the bearded man but they could not do any research to back their claims with data? You call this journalism?Your article implies that readers are stupid. Do you want people to believe that the villagers are so innocent that once they see outsiders shooting videos of their sign they will not take it down? Especially when the sign is advertising an illegal activity?And you have completely missed the point that KBC is trying to make - which is - stop female infanticide. Instead you choose to criticize them with a half baked and unresearched story to grab eyeballs for your website.
                                  Reply
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                                    vinay kanchan
                                    Aug 23, 2014 at 2:12 am
                                    I an a fan of KBC. But looks like this season is loads of emotion. Every partint is crying, raising an issue etc. There is no doubt that some of them are forced to do so by KBC team... What happen to you KBC
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