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Chawla family hassled by constant media glare

By Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
February 03, 2003 02:26 IST
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The constant media attention when the family is still recovering from Kalpana Chawla's tragic demise has taken its toll on her brother Sanjay.

On Sunday, when the Chawla family left Karnal and arrived at their Khel Gaon (Asiad Village) residence in Delhi, they were accosted by reporters seeking details about the famous astronaut and her family.

Sanjay could not conceal his irritation at the media's insensitivity to their state of mind when he was repeatedly asked to repeat facts pertaining to his illustrious sister and his family.

"I have been repeating facts about Kalpana and my family ad nauseam. I wish you reporters did your homework before shooting the same questions again and again," Sanjay said.

"You will understand that in such circumstances, repeatedly naming your father, mother and other relatives is a bit of a hassle. I have been doing this for the last 24 hours," Sanjay pointed out.

At one point of time, he was telling reporters that his family was aware that Kalpana's profession entailed a certain amount of risk.

The question that followed riled Sanjay no end.

"I merely pointed out that deep down, our family always knew that, like in some other professions, we have to be prepared for the possibility of a mishap. This reporter promptly asked me whether we were waiting for my sister's death."

"Such callousness is uncalled for. It is simply not done," Sanjay told

The consequence was that the Chawla family withdrew into a shell.

Sanjay, it was quite apparent, had been overcome with grief and friends and relatives were trying to comfort him even as he tried to stifle his tears.

Sanjay's brother in-law Anil Buddhiraj tried to make up for him.

"Kalpana's parents had misgivings when she expressed a desire to study abroad. Twenty years ago, there were very few girls from small towns wishing to take up such a challenge. We are all glad that Kalpana became a role model, especially for children," he told

"The entire country is looking up to her since she reached such dizzy heights without any pull or political connections. It is this fact that is making her loss that much more painful," he added.

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Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi