A few days ago the New York Times which in the past has exhibited traits like racism and elitism against India, decided to conjure up a unique angle about the menace of killer dogs in Uttar Pradesh’s Sitapur.
The residents of the UP district in the past six months have been living under the terror of “killer stray dogs” which as per reports have claimed the lives of at least 14 children during that period. Besides those dead, at least 30 individuals including 12 children have been injured in the attacks.
Reports claim that these killer dogs hunt in the packs and mainly target children without provocation and directly attack the victim’s neck. The town of Khairabad which is the most affected has seen parents even being fearful of sending the children to schools.
As a result of these attacks, locals have formed about 18 vigilante groups to hunt down such dogs.
The New York Times too decided to report these attacks, and incidentally decided to draw a link between them and the closure of illegal slaughterhouses in UP after the Yogi government assumed power in 2017:
It was evidently clear that the New York Times had decided to mess things up in the headline itself after it failed to mention that the Yogi Government has only closed illegal slaughterhouses.
In the content, the article proceeded to quote some unnamed farmers who it claims have asserted that “Hindu-right politicians’ zeal to protect cows, may have created killer dogs”.
To further solidify its narrative, the piece claimed that the stray dogs in the region earlier used to fill their stomach on meat scraps from slaughterhouses and owing to the shutdown asserted that, “some of the strays might have gone mad with hunger”.
Immediately in the next paragraph, the article quotes Indian Veterinary Research Institute’s director – Dr RK Singh as saying that:
“Because these dogs are getting less food, they move toward the neighbourhoods in search of food. That is leading to intense human-animal interaction.”
Clearly, for the average reader, the message would be clear that the closure of slaughterhouses has driven some stray dogs so desperate with hunger that they are willing to go to any extent to quench their craving for meat. The fact that one of India’s topmost veterinary official appears to be agreeing with this theory too would not be lost on the reader.
Following this article by NYT, a Swarajya report sought to uncover the truth of the matter, and in the process indicated the American publication of malicious attempt at false propaganda.
Swarajya in its report decided to investigate the most credible part of the NYT report and contacted Dr. RK Singh. The doctor though had a completely different outlook and claimed that his statement had no relation to slaughterhouses. He thus asserted that his statement simply was:
“Because of our change in lifestyle, we don’t offer as much food to stray dogs as we used to. Earlier, we used to make a separate chapati for the dog, but we don’t do it anymore. It’s just less food available to them that is creating the problem”.
After making his statement he said that he had nothing to add and even took objection to the term “killer dogs” which has been used by NYT. He also refuted claims that his institute has made any sort of a mention about slaughterhouses in its report submitted to the authorities over these killings – a claim which was made in a Times of India report.
Besides the statement, another question which might poke holes in NYT’s theory is that “why is only the district of Sitapur affected when the slaughterhouses have been closed throughout the state”.
Ironically the NYT report too asked this question and in an attempt to answer it – wrote this:
Shockingly, the answer which NYT managed to come up with for this very legitimate question was “that remained a mystery”.
It can be well accepted that if a school kid writes, “that remains a mystery” to a question asked during an examination, he/she won’t be awarded any marks. But for some odd reason, such explanations are considered perfectly acceptable by the editors of NYT.
What might further puncture this “slaughterhouse theory” is the fact that such a stray dog menace has also been noted in Kerala, with at least 90,000 people being a victim of dog bites in 2014 – despite the fact that there is no such restriction on slaughterhouses in the state, and slaughtering animals is actively encouraged politically.
Also, the question arises as to why did the three journalists who worked on the NYT story did not actively interview residents living near the closed slaughterhouses to ascertain whether the dogs indeed were so dependent on its scraps of meat.
Following this, the NYT needs to answer whether its report was merely an ill conjured attempt at reportage, or whether it knowingly carried such a narrative to actively discredit the Yogi government by even going to the extent using the deaths of innocent children to achieve it.