As the nation faces the Coronavirus epidemic head-on, stories about good samaritans helping out those in need are not uncommon. However, a clear pattern has emerged as to the boosting of such news stories.
In April 2020, the Times of India had published a story about five Muslim men organizing the last rites of a Hindu man suspected of dying due to COVID-19. However, this story was disputed by the family members of the deceased Hindu, who directly contradicted the TOI report, claiming it was “fake news”.
Fake heroes, fake credit
The TOI report had stated that 5 Muslim men carried out the last rites of Venu Mudiraj, an autorickshaw driver after his neighbor ostracised the family following a heated argument with his teenage children and younger brother Vinod for bringing the body of the deceased home who they suspected had died of coronavirus.
However, a Hyderbad based journalist Sridharan Siddhu contacted Swarajya Magazine journalist Swati Goel Sharma to inform her that the family of the deceased is traumatized because of the false report and it intends to clarify things regarding the falsehoods published about them in the media.
“5 Muslim men, claiming to be my father’s friend, came and requested us to carry the bier for some time. We don’t know them at all. But since they said they were my father’s friends, we allowed them to hold the bier. They then took photos and spread the news in newspapers and on social media that they performed the entire last rites. That’s not true. They didn’t do anything,” Sachin the deceased’s 18-year-old son said in a video statement.
“We lost our mother two years ago and now we have lost our father. And then this misleading report published by TOI is further traumatizing us. My relatives are calling me up to ask ‘Who are these 5 Muslim men who helped you?’ This is very humiliating and they are exploiting my father’s death to gain credit. This is fake news, Muslims did not help us, people in our neighborhood have helped us,” added Sachin.
The deceased’s younger brother Vinod also accused the Times of India of concocting statements and attributing false comments to him. He further added that he spent Rs 35000 from his hard-earned money on his brother’s funeral but it pains him to see that five Muslims took away the credit without doing anything.
Recent case: No, ‘Muslim friend’ did not organize the last rites of Anubhav Sharma
This is not a one-off incident. Just yesterday, journalists like Abhisar Sharma, Ravish Kumar, Mohammad Zubair, and many other so-called ‘secular liberals’ tried to push another viral ‘Muslim hero’ story, claiming that a Mohammad Younis in Muzaffarnagar performed the funeral rites of Anubhav Sharma, along with pushing their cringe ideological talking points attacking the “hypocrisy” of religion. However, Swarajya journalist Swati Goel Sharma got in touch with the family of Anubhav Sharma, who claim they are “deeply pained” by the “fake viral posts”. and that no “journalist” heard the deceased’s family side of the story first before pushing their ideological agenda of boosting a ‘Muslim hero’ narrative.
While talking to Swati Goel Sharma’s deceased Anubhav’s brother has narrated that Anubhav did not even have Covid. The ‘Muslim Hero’ hailed in media and countless social media posts is a mutual friend of the brothers who works for the family and drives their vehicle.
Part 2 – Sharad tells me his family is hurt with the propaganda that they did not come forward or did not do last rites. In the end, I requested him to add Yunus on the line but the call did not go through. pic.twitter.com/jmtBcMweOj— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) April 29, 2021
Family performed last rites as per Hindu customs, Md Younis just came along because he is a friend: Anubhav’s brother
Sharad Sharma, the brother of Anubhav Sharma revealed that the family is extremely pained by the baseless allegations that the family refused to perform the last rites of Anubhav. He stated that had their family members, relatives and neighbors had performed Anubhav’s last rites as per Hindu customs. A priest was taken who had presided over the rites at the cremation ground. Since Md Younis is a friend and known to the family, he had come along with too and was present during the last rites. As everyone was asked to offer a fistful of ‘raal’ to the pyre as per custom, Md Younis did too, as a mark of solidarity for a friend.
Sharad further explained to Swati that somebody had clicked a photo of Md Younis offering ‘raal’ to the pyre and later Amar Ujala published a report. Soon the photo went viral, with several social media users claiming that it is a Muslim man performing last rites for a deceased Hindu after the Hindu family refused.
Sharad added that the whole episode is nothing but a social media farce and he had himself performed the last rites of his brother, along with family members and friends.
RSS Swayamsevak’s sacrifice branded ‘fake’ by vested interests on the basis of some unverified claims
But this is not even the most egregious example of mainstream media bias when it comes to covering such stories. Recently, 85-year old RSS Swayamsevak Narayan Dhabadkar gave the ultimate sacrifice by vacating his hospital bed so that a younger patient in his 40s with COVID-19 can occupy it. This sacrifice led to Shri Dhabadkar losing his life. However, in a ghoulish manner, Loksatta, a Marathi-publication under the Indian Express umbrella, published a “fact-check” disputing the validity of Shri Dhabadkar’s sacrifice. Loksatta has now edited their ‘fact-check’, claiming that their report was based on an unverified tweet.
The mainstream media is not only disproportionately signal-boosting ‘Muslim hero’ stories but also denigrating genuine heroes who happen to be from the RSS to serve a political agenda. However, that’s not all. Let us remind you of the bike thief Tabrez news story from two years ago.
In June 2019, incidents of theft took place at the house of three persons named Hemsagar Pradhan, Rajesh Pramanik, and Kamal Mahato in Jharkhand. Three culprits were reportedly involved in the theft, out of whom the locals were able to nab one Mohammad Tabrez Ansari. Ansari was brutally beaten by the locals before the police had reached the spot. After reaching there police rescued Ansari and sent him for medical examination. Ansari was accused of trying to steal a bike. The stolen and a few other items were recovered by the police. Three days after the incident, Ansari’s health had deteriorated and he was admitted to a hospital. He was declared dead by doctors in the hospital.
The news story was picked up by the national media after Tabrez Ansari’s death and was portrayed as a case of mob lynching. The matter was highly politicized and violent protests were carried out by Muslim organizations against Ansari’s death. However, the investigation team set up by the district administration to investigate the cause of Ansari’s death said that he could have died due to stress-induced cardiac arrest.
Vigilante justice or mob justice is illegal, heinous, and should be condemned. Tabrez was not assaulted for his religious beliefs, but for credible accusations of theft. However, the national media, in their thirst for ‘Muslim heroes’ and even ‘Muslim victims’ turned small-time thief Tabrez Ansari into a national figure of supposed persecution against the Muslim community. However, this same media will cast aspersions and ‘fact-check’ the sacrifices of real martyrs like Narayan Dhabadkar, who gave up his life in order to make sure that a person younger than him lives.
It is indeed a remarkable level of bias when these so-called journalists and influencers hail the most common acts of social interactions as heroic, falsely accusing a grieving Hindu family of shunning their son, but go to the extra length and find baseless posts to discredit the genuine and heroic sacrifice of a Hindu man.