Kerala’s leading newspaper Malayala Manorama published a photograph of a lady being attacked by stray dogs near a temple in Mannarkad in Palakkad district in its August 31 edition.
But the photograph that was published in all the editions has turned out to be false.
The caption of the photograph reads: “A housewife in Mannarkad being attacked by stray dogs near Arakkurushi temple. Locals who rushed to the spot hearing her screams rescued her. Close to 8-10 stray dogs are present in this road at all times. Not only children, but elders are also scared of walking on the road.”
The head priest of Arakkurushi Bhagavathy temple raised objection to the photograph pointing out that though there were stray dogs in the vicinity, such an incident had not occurred in the past one year.
36-year-old Sreekumar pointed out that the bhandaram (temple hundi) seen in the photograph was no longer painted in saffron and that a flex board concerning Ganesh Utsav celebrations was from the previous year.
He says that the photograph from a year ago was manipulated to suit the “trends” of the times. Kerala has been witnessing a wave of anger against stray dogs after many attacks reported on people across the state. In a recent horrific incident, stray dogs entered a house and attacked an infant.
Speaking to The News Minute, Sreekumar said that the lady in the photograph is an employee at the temple.
“As I recognized the woman in the photograph, I asked her about it. The lady then told me that the incident happened last year, when she fell down at the sight of the dogs on her way to the temple. She confirmed to me that neither was she attacked by the stray dogs, nor was she rescued by the locals as mentioned in the caption,” Sreekumar said.
He suspects that one of the guests who attended a marriage ceremony at the temple that day (a year ago) might have clicked the photograph and handed it over to the studio, that in turn sent it to the newspaper.
"But how can the newspaper publish the photograph without verifying the facts?" Sreekumar points out.
After he raised objection to the photograph that has triggered fear in the minds of devotees, the newspaper issued a clarification two days later. In the wake of public outrage over stray dog bites across the state, the photograph has created fear in the minds of the locals, he said.
However, Sreekumar says that a clarification only in the district edition will not suffice.
"Though not on the front page, the photo was published in all the editions. Manorama is bound to issue clarification in all its editions, and that too in a section where public attention is guaranteed, and not in a corner," Sreekumar said.