Two photographs are being widely circulated on social media with the claim that a woman’s body was twisted and broken by a son duo to wrap her in a sack and carry her to their village. From the Facebook page ‘I Support Vinay Dubey’, the image garnered over 8,300 shares. The accompanying message targeted Prime Minister Modi in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

[The complete message reads, “#मोदी जी ऐसे #आत्मनिर्भर भारत बनाना चाहते हैं सरकारी कोई सूबीधा नेही मिलने से अपने #मां के मृतक शरीर के #हाथ पैर तोड़ कर बस्ता में घुसा के ले जा रहा है बेटा,,,
यह घटना #उडीसा के बताया जा रहा है,”]

Viral since 2019

The same photographs were viral last year when it was claimed that the incident took place in Odisha and the woman’s father and son had to take such measures because the hospital did not have an ambulance. “If this is true, it’s useless to reach the moon,” the claim ended with this statement.

The claim was circulated on Facebook and Twitter.

“ये ह्रदयविदारक तस्वीर जो आप देख रहे हैं ये राज्य उड़ीसा की हैं इस औरत की लाश को तोड़ मरोड़ कर इसलिए बोरी में डाला जा रहा है ताकि ये पिता पुत्र लाश को कंधे पर ढो कर आसानी से अपने गाँव ले जा सके क्योंकि होस्पिटल में एम्बुलेंस नहीं है अगर यह सच है तो चांद पर जाना बेकार है (This heart-wrenching photograph is wrong the state of Odisha. This woman’s body is being put in a sack twisted and broken so that the father-son duo can carry her easily on their shoulders to the village because the hospital does not have an ambulance.)” – read the complete text of the viral message.

Social media users had also sent fact-check request on the Alt News app.

2016 incident

A Google reverse-image search of both the images leads to a One India article published in 2016. While the incident did occur in Odisha, it is three years old and the two men breaking the woman’s bones are not her husband and son, but health centre employees.

The incident was reported across mainstream media outlets, including The Indian Express, India TV, India Today, NDTV and Hindustan Times, among others. An elderly woman had died in a train accident in Odisha’s Soro. The region does not have a hospital but a community health centre where the old woman’s dead body was brought. Due to the unavailability of an ambulance and auto-rickshaws charging over Rs 3,000, two workers of the health centre broke the woman’s body at the hip for easy transportation to a nearby railway station. It needed to be transferred 30 km away to Balasore for postmortem.

Photographs of the incident are currently viral on social media, which might give the impression that the incident is recent. However, it took place in 2016 and the men breaking the bones of the dead body are not family but health workers.

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About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.