On 31 May, the news of a man’s body found hanging in Bengal’s Purulia district sent shock-waves across India with the BJP launching a tirade against the ruling Trinamool party claiming that the deceased was a member of the saffron party.
The body of 20-year-old Trilochan Mahato, said an NDTV report, was hanging by a nylon rope not very far from his home at Supurdih village in Purulia’s Balarampur block.
Scrawled on the back and front of his white T-Shirt was a chilling message, that read, “This is for doing BJP politics from age 18. Been trying to kill you since the vote. Failed. Today you are dead.”
BJP President Amit Shah wasted no time in taking to Twitter and blaming the ruling Trinamool Congress for Mahto’s death. His tweet read, “A young life full of possibilities was brutally taken out under state’s patronage. He was hanged on a tree just because his ideology differed from that of state sponsored goons.”
Three days later, another man’s body was found hanging in the same district. Identified as Dulal Kumar, found hanging from a high-tension power tower in Balrampur, Purulia. However, quoting police sources, The Hindu later reported that Kumar’s death was a case of suicide.
“A post-mortem was conducted by a board of five doctors and the report has revealed the cause of death. They have clearly stated that the death took place due to asphyxia, due to hanging ante-mortem (before death),” Akash Megharia, newly appointed Superintendent of Police (SP) of Purulia said was quoted by The Hindu.
Earlier this month, Times of India reported how 11 Bajrang Dal members had been arrested in connection with the murder of one of the two men, whose bodies were found hanging in mysterious circumstances.
Just a day later, the report had vanished from the ToI website. Not only did the website remove its text report, but it also took down the video report (see video). Upon clicking on both the links, the page throws up a ‘404 Page Not Found’ message.
Times of India removing both its reports on such politically sensitive murder cases raises several questions. Was the original reporting of Bajrang Dal members’ alleged involvement fake news? Or the publication came under pressure from the Hindutva group to remove the traces of seemingly damaging reporting about Bajrang Dal.