A photo published in Malayalam newspaper Madhyamam is now in the middle of a controversy. Madhyamam had published the picture of Mohammed Kutty, as part of their article on Malayalis who succumbed to COVID-19 abroad. However, Mohammed Kutty’s brother has now said that his brother died of pneumonia and not COVID.
Muhammed Ashraf Para wrote on Facebook that his elder brother died of pneumonia in Mecca and his family had received his body and done the last rites too.
"Madhyamam newspaper put out his photo and wrote that he died of COVID-19 and asked in the headline how many more should die. It came to my notice last night and I wrote a rather rude post out of emotion. However Facebook has removed it citing community standards. But what is the ethics that the newspaper is following? If someone in their family dies, will they include that name in this list too?" Muhammed Ashraf said.
The publication of the names and photos of people whom the paper claimed had died of COVID-19 abroad, led to a controversy when the Kerala Chief Minister addressed it in one of his press meets to give an update on the pandemic. “One should remember that there are people from Kerala still living in those countries and will need to continue living there. When you write about these countries, that it’s unsafe for Malayalis to live there, whose lives will it affect? There should be a limit to kuthithiruppu (scheming to create rift). Is it anyone’s carelessness that caused these deaths? Could we have brought all the patients infected with coronavirus from abroad at a time there was a lockdown for months and there was no means of transport? Everyone who dies is dear to this land and their death is painful, but exploiting this situation is more dangerous than COVID-19,” the CM said.
On further questions about it, CM Pinarayi said, “If this news was meant to accuse the Kerala government, they haven’t thought who it would ultimately affect. If you write against the government of another country when there are still tens of thousands of Malayalis living there, who does it affect? The governments there have protected them so far and should continue to do so.”