On 20 April, Telugu newspaper Andhra Jyoti, followed by several English language newspapers in the country like The Times of India and The Hindu and news media abroad like Gulf News ran a story claiming five Muslim men had arranged for the funeral of a Hindu man suspected of having died of the coronavirus diseases (COVID) due to which the kin of the deceased had refused to turn up for the last rites. Now an audio clip of a conversation of the members of the Hindu family with one of the Muslim men who the stories had claimed attended the funeral has surfaced, which exposes the media-concocted drama of communal harmony.
What’s funny, the media houses’ fabrications did not match.
- The name of the dead man is different in different newspapers. If they were different people, Google does not recognise the difference. It has clubbed The Hindu, The Times of India and Gulf News stories together.
- The Hindu report claimed the lockdown did not permit the relations of the deceased to turn up at the funeral whereas The Times of India said that a suspicion that the man had died of COVID made the neighbours angry and, therefore, no neighbour turned up at the funeral.
- Curiously, The Hindu says it’s a neighbourhood of Muslims (mostly drivers). Where did The Times of India find Hindu neihhbours from?
- There is also an age mismatch.
- The dates of reporting are different in different media outlets.
“Venu Mudiraj, 50, from Khairatabad died at OGH on April 16 and trouble started after his family brought home the body the next day for his funeral. His two teenaged children and uncle G Vinod faced the heat from neighbours for bringing the body home, as they alleged Mudiraj had died of coronavirus and refused all help,” said The Times of India.
“When 78-year-old Ramachandran died in Chennai a few days ago, many of his friends and relatives stayed put in their homes due to the lockdown. And when it was time to perform the last rites and the funeral, his family realised that they needed help. That’s when they approached their Muslim neighbours,” read The Hindu report.
“When close relatives and friends of a man, who died of tuberculosis did not come forward to perform his last rites due to the unfounded fears of contracting COVID-19, some of his Muslim friends came forward to make all the arrangements and even took the bier on their shoulders to (the) cremation ground,” claimed Gulf News, which otherwise agrees with The Times of India that the name of the dead man was Venu.
The Hindu published the report on 19 April and updated it on the 20th. The Times of India published it on 20 April and Gulf News did it yesterday.
Nine days ago, The Hindu had published a similar story. That dead man was called Rajendra Bagri who lived in Bhatta Basti of Rajasthan. Published on 13 April, the story even claims the Muslims chanted “Rām nām satya hai” while carrying the body to the cremation ground — an act that would qualify as apostasy in Islam.
Now, speaking in Dakkani, the Hindu men are heard protesting against the Muslim man in the telephone conversation in the received audio clip. When the latter claims he did attend the funeral, the Hindu family protests, saying, “You had come only to get yourself photographed.”
In the conversation, the Hindus are heard complaining that the fabricated news has put the family in an awkward position, as their relatives are calling them up and asking how they could be so irresponsible to have abandoned the dead man.