A DAY after BJP president Amit Shah waved a 2013 copy of Outlook magazine with a cover story on malnutrition and infant mortality in Kerala’s tribal belt, it now appears that the photograph used on the magazine cover was not from Kerala.
The photograph of a malnourished infant, on the cover of the July 2013 issue of Outlook, was reportedly taken in the “no firing zone” of conflict-ridden Sri Lanka in 2009. The same photograph was used by the US State Department in a report on Sri Lanka. When contacted, Outlook Editor Krishna Prasad told The Indian Express: “This is the first time this issue has been brought to our notice… As far as I remember, we did not issue any clarification or correction about the story the following week or the week after that.”
In the cover story, the magazine gave credit to K A Ramu, an NGO worker, for the photograph. Confirming this, Prasad said the other pictures used inside were taken by the magazine’s photographer. “The cover picture was supplied by K A Ramu, a tribal associated with an NGO, who took our reporter around,” said Prasad.
But Ramu denied taking the photograph. “We had given Outlook two pictures. One had two women with babies. That was taken by me. Another had one woman holding a baby. That was not taken by me, but someone from my office in Ernakulam had sent it to Outlook,” Ramu told The Indian Express from Kerala. “In any case, I don’t remember which picture they used,” said Ramu.
The Indian Express sent the photograph — found on page 64 of the US State Department report — to Ramu on Saturday night. But Ramu did not respond despite repeated attempts to contact him.
According to the US State Department’s report, the photograph was taken in the Sri Lankan war zone in May 2009, months before the Sri Lankan government’s final battle with the LTTE.
Incidentally, the same photograph was used by the Congress in a report prepared just before the 2012 Assembly elections in Gujarat to highlight malnutrition in the state, then ruled by the Narendra Modi-led government.