Access to internet and the rise in the number of users mean that the information of an event happening in one corner of the world takes merely seconds to reach the other corner.
So, we strongly believe that you must have read the news about a nonagenarian Dalit man axed to death and then burnt by a young man in Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh.
The news arrived at a time when everyone is still in shock on the brutal killing of Mohammed Ikhlaq in Bisada village of Dadri town for allegedly storing beef in his home. It is highly likely, however, that even if you have read the news, you might be having a completely different information about the Dalit man’s killing depending on which news outlet you follow. This means that if you are unaware of the news entirely, we cannot help you because even though most prominent media outlets have covered the story they have their own version of events. So we decided to present before you the versions of some of those media outlets, along with the headlines that have been written to unnecessarily add caste colour to an otherwise brutal murder case. We begin with Hindustan Times, which was the first to report the news on October 2.
From the very headline, HT is screaming that this is an extreme case of caste discrimination.
The HT reports
that the victim, “identified as Chimma, had gone to the Maidani Baba temple with his wife, son Durjan and brother on Wednesday evening. He was stopped from entering the temple by a man named Sanjay Tiwari.” “When Chimma did not relent, Tiwari allegedly attacked him with an axe and then set him on fire.” It also tells us that there were “several worshippers present on the scene.” The report also cites an ‘eyewitness’ saying that Tiwari had asked the victim not to enter the temple. ETV, which published a PTI report
on the incident, gives us a different account.
Quoting the police, this report says that the victim (Khimma Ahirwar, according to PTI) was killed by the accused “when he refused to pay him money”.
The temple in this story is just a place of crime and not the reason behind it, but the headline ostensibly points a reader in a different direction.
The TOI covered the incident the next day.
The headline, in this case, omits the ‘temple’ part. It follows the PTI version but also adds an interesting detail:
“The police denied an earlier report that Ahirwar was killed because he was entering a temple.” The TOI report
tells us that an FIR has been lodged against Tiwari, who has been arrested, and three of his associates under the IPC and SC/ST Act. “The accused was under the influence of alcohol at the time he committed the crime,” Hamirpur SP Muniraj G told TOI. The Deccan Chronicle, which published the news a few hours after TOI, towed the Hindustan Times line.
That Tiwari is the accused, he used an axe to kill Ahirwar, doused him with kerosene, and set him on fire is agreed upon by all four outlets.
The Indian Express published a more detailed account of the grisly killing in the afternoon of October 3. The report stated that the crime happened on September 30.
This report tells us that the victim and his family “were coming out of the temple”. It then cites a senior police official recounting how Cheema was killed, which was the same as published by others.
What the Indian Express adds is that the temple was built by members of the SC community and is located outside the village.
It also tells us that at the time of the crime, “no one was present inside the temple”. All five media outlets unanimously quoted the police saying that the accused was drunk at the time of the incident. The Indian Express quotes
Hamirpur SP Muniraj saying that Tiwari appears to be mentally ill, too, and that he had attacked the temple priest a couple of days ago. While the story gives us slightly more details, the headline, however, propounds a misleading idea of the event. At a time when the Dadri lynching incident has redrawn communal lines and provided ammo to intolerant members in our society, news with such sensationalised headlines might aggravate disharmony. We believe that media houses must act responsibly even while competing for breaking news or scoops with each other. A 90-year-old man was killed by a drunk. The official version is that he was killed following an altercation over money. The temple was just the scene of the crime. There was no caste angle, it appears. So there is no need for media houses to write ‘temple’ and ‘Dalit’ in the headline of a story that speaks of a senseless murder over money. May we suggest ‘Drunk Man Kills Nonagenarian And Burns His Body For Refusing Money