Did Mathrubhumi stage photo of adivasi kids eating from the dump?

Was PMs comment on adivasi children in Kerala based on a fake photo by Mathrubhumi
news Friday, May 13, 2016 - 14:02

The past few days have seen much debate on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comments on life of adivasis in Kerala, especially the comparison of the state’s tribal infant mortality rate to that of Somalia.

A chunk of the PM’s speech was based on a photograph and a story that had garnered much attention in November 2015. The photograph that appeared in Mathrubhumi showed three adivasi children ‘foraging for food’ in a garbage dump in Peravoor in Kannur.

While the state BJP chief Kummanam Rajashekharan supported the PM’s view by referring to the same news report, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s office has gone on the defensive, claiming that the story was a fabricated one.

A video released by the CM’s office titled ‘The true story behind the incident of tribal children reportedly eating stale food from a waste dumping area’, shows one of the children and his mother saying that they were made to pose for the photo.

In the video the boy says, “They first asked us to collect some plastic bags and put them inside a gunny bag, which we did. Then some grown-up girls asked us to pick up some filth, which we did. They then brought some bananas and gave them to us and said that they wanted to take some photos. Then they took photographs."

“We never let our children eat waste,” their mother Sharada says in the video.

Sharada also added that there was no shortage of food at their home as they had a ration card. “Why do newspapers give such news?” Sharada asks.

Mathrubhumi reporter Nazer Valiyedathu however refuted allegations that the picture had been fabricated and said the video of the mother and son had been forcibly made by local Congress leaders.

When the story had appeared in November 2015, Kannur district collector had given a report to government stating that the story was false.


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