On Friday, Dainik Bhaskar’s Bhopal edition called out the Madhya Pradesh government for its incorrect data on Covid deaths in the state.
"The government's data on deaths is a lie," its headline read. "These burning pyres are telling the truth." The headline was accompanied with an aerial-view photograph of burning funeral pyres at Bhopal's Bhadbhada Vishram ghat.
The newspaper reported that government data cited only 21 Covid deaths in the last five days in Bhopal, while 356 last rites of those infected with the virus took place in the same period at three locations.
"The funerals of 112 Covid-infected people took place in Bhopal on Thursday," the report said. "There were 72 cremations in Bhadbhada, 30 in Subhash Nagar, and 10 bodies buried in Jhada cemetery. But according to official figures, only four deaths were recorded in the city...Whose bodies are then burning in the crematoriums?"
The story only appeared on the front page of Bhaskar's Bhopal edition; it did not appear on the front page in Gwalior and Indore.
Dainik Jagran's Bhopal edition did not report it either though the paper's top story on the front page was also Covid related, pointing out two lakh cases in a single day.
Other news organisations have also reported extensively on the mismatch between government data and cremations. NDTV quoted locals who said they hadn't witnessed scenes like this since the Bhopal gas tragedy in 1984. India Today reported 187 cremations following Covid norms in the city as opposed to only five deaths reported by the government.
Similar stories are being reported from Uttar Pradesh. At Bhainsakund cremation site in Lucknow, tin sheets were reportedly erected to shield it from view after videos of cremations went viral on social media.