On the night of 31 June and 1 July a small boy went missing in New Yelahanka Town in Bangalore, and was later found dead. As unfortunate as this was, the subsequent actions of the press, the police and the political leadership of Bangalore was even more unfortunate. Each party here has failed to discharge their basic duty – which was to investigate what really happened and take corrective action. In this multi-part series we’ll see how the press created a hysterical situation about stray dog attacks without any investigation of their own and of following basic journalistic ethics of collecting evidence on location and piecing together information. And and how the police, people and politicians joined the chorus.
In none of the initial reports did any BBMP officials say it was a dog bite – even though they’re responsible for the ABC program and should know more – its the police who maintained from the beginning that it was dogs who killed Sandeep. The police seemed to know almost as soon as they got to the location that this was a dog attack – when they’re neither trained nor otherwise knowledgeable about it. The fact is that this allowed the police to make it an open and shut case, get it off their chest and it allowed for compensation to be paid immediately. But it also lead to the hysteria that continues to call for the culling of dogs.
- The boy who went missing about 4AM (depending on reports) and was found (earliest at 5-15, latest at 5-45AM) in that time had covered (or was dragged) 700mts! The press continued to report the distance as either 300m or 400m or in between, but the actual distance on the ground is 700m.
- Father started looking for the boy at 5AM, but by 6AM had already reported boy missing – how much time was therefore spend in looking for the boy?
- At 5-15 Zahira Sultana finds the body – so a dog or dogs weighing 20kgs at the most has dragged the boy weighing 18kgs, 700mts while the father was searching for it in the same area? That means that the father searched for 60 mins and walked to the police station in that one hr. Incidentally Zahira Sultana who finds the body and the dogs alongside is never mentioned again and is not in the police reports!
- Reports are clear that the blood trail leads from the location to the dump where the boy was found i.e. he was dragged there and the boy did not walk to the dump. But no one spend any effort investigating the time-lines, distances and terrain involved to see if the were actually possible.
- BBMP has never said that the boy was killed by a dog – they have maintained that its a hit & run or a black-magic case. As late as 13 July 2011Dr Parvez Piran, Jt Director, Animal Health had stated that his report on the boys death is inconclusive (this report will be shown as well). [Subsequently Dr Piran spoke to the press again on 25th July that there is further evidence that this was not a dog bite
- Subsequent media reports indicated that the Post Mortem ascribed the reason as Animal Bite (not dogs – we’ll bring this post mortem and its analysis as well.
- When there was nothing even in the press’s own stories to show or from the location or from BBMP that this was a dog attack – why did the press continue to headline each story with ‘Dog kills child’?
- Is it just a form of lazy journalism in the age of Facebook and Twitter, incompetent reporting at a large scale or was this reporting motivated and fed by any party?