Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to demonetise Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes, there was widespread reporting on stories of inconvenience faced by people across the country.
Few days back a report in Times of India (TOI) Mumbai edition titled ‘Servers crash, so do customers’, claimed two instances where people had died due to difficulties created by demonetization.
It mentioned: “In the Mumbai suburb of Mulund, Vishwanath Vartak, 73, died of a heart attack outside HSBC Bank while a housewife jumped to her death in Howrah after returning empty-handed from an ATM.”
Now the bank has pointed out that they don’t have a branch or ATM in Mulund.
Buried on page 7, TOI – apology for fake news of senior citizen dying outside HSBC Mulund. HSBC doesn’t even have a branch or ATM in Mulund. pic.twitter.com/14tVpTrSxV
— Amit Thadhani (@amitsurg) November 13, 2016
At the same time, another media house in a story titled ‘Man dies outside bank in Mumbai, kin say not related to cash crisis‘ reported the exact sequence of events:
“The incident took place at Hari Om Nagar in Mulund (east) outside the SBI branch around 11.30 am. Senior Inspector of Navghar police station Madhav More said the bank branch was hardly 100 metres away from where Vartak lived with his wife. “Vartak had been suffering from high blood pressure for the past 20 years. As he reached the SBI bank branch and was climbing the stairs leading to the bank, he started feeling giddy and his hands and legs started to shiver,” More said. He added, “There was no crowd outside the bank when he started feeling uneasy.”
A relative of the deceased said, “The family is upset that the media is linking his death to the demonetisation issue. He had been having health issues for a while and his death has nothing to do with him being in the bank.”
According to him, Vartak was suffering from hypertension for over seven years. He was on medication and undergoing treatment for it. According to his son, Aniruddh, Vartak only had age-related health problems.
Vishwas Vartak, a former PWD employee, was leading a retired life at his residence in Aditya Park in Hari Om Nagar, Mulund East. Vartak lived with his wife, two sons and daughters-in-law.
Varatak’s death has given the fodder to Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant to blame the government for his death.
Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, has warned people not to fall prey to rumours being spread through social media. “We have enough stock of salts and there is no reason for a temporary surge in price or shortage. Supply of essential commodities is being closely monitored. There are a lot of stories spreading through social media, like reports of certain institutions going on strike. There is no such thing, please don’t believe such reports.”