Friends and family of St Stephen’s lecturer Alan Stanley have blamed scurrilous reports that appeared in Malayalam news media for his death. Stanley and his mother were found dead in Delhi on Saturday.
Police have said that prima facie, it seemed that Stanley had helped his mother Lissy commit suicide at their home before going to the railway station to kill himself, The Indian Express reported. The 27-year-old’s body was found on a railway track at Sarai Rohilla.
The Express report quoted a policeman as saying that the suicide note they found said that “Malayalam media outlets were deliberately troubling the family, causing depression”.
Stanley’s friends have created a Facebook page, Alan Oppam (meaning ‘with Alan’), where tributes are pouring in for him.
While many shared stories of their friendship or time spent with Stanley, several have blamed recent news reports by Malayalam media for the deaths. At least three posts have named Manorama News, owned by the Malayala Manorama Group, and the website Marunadan Malayali.
The two news outlets have been accused of publishing stories comparing the case to the recent case against Jolly Joseph, who allegedly killed 6 family members. Such reports painted Lissy in a bad light and humiliated her, they said.
Stanley’s friend Rajiv Gerald Pereira wrote on Facebook,”...shameless Malayalam Manorama and Malayali Vartha generated lies about Alan’s mother on October 15th. This public humiliation was unbearable for Alan and his mother. Alan, who used to talk to us, stopped communicating after October 15th.”
“A friend, who was with Stanley when I called him, told me later that he did not attend the call thinking that I must have read those reports and called him for the same,” Pereira told PTI.
Stanley’s friend Asheem wrote on Facebook, “In journalism school, we were taught that a reporter has to take both sides of a story before publishing it. if Manorama and marunadan Malayali reporters had done it, probably two lives could’ve been saved.”
Both friends have demanded action against the publications.
Another friend, Asha Thomas, wrote, “On 15th October, Manorama had run an article in its Kottayam edition that detailed out the complaints lodged against Alan and his mother by his stepfather’s family after the latter’s suicide. Alan was deeply affected by this. Alan, for whom things had just started to become better, was driven to death by suicide by Manorama and the ‘Marunadan’ news outlets. They are, no doubt, in a highly excitable state thanks to the frenzy over Jolly Joseph and the world’s insatiable curiosity for details. And they continue to taint my friend even after death.”
Stanley’s PhD supervisor Sanil V told Indian Express, “Everyone was aware that both mother and son were very disturbed by reports in Malayalam newspapers, connecting them to his stepfather’s death… We are going to pursue the matter legally and demand that there be some kind of guidelines on how reporting is done.”
Marunadan Malayali has denied any wrongdoing on its part, telling HuffPost India that “the allegations in the news report are from the petition filed in the court by the children of Wilson from the first marriage”.
“Marunadan has only reported the news based on the quotes from these petitioners and only against the mother and not against the son Alan and that too only on the basis of the complaint filed,” said Marunadan Malayali’s editor Riju M.
“Marunadan has not created this news as a figment of imagination as is criticised but according to the inputs of the crime branch team and the the petitioners,” he added.
Many of Stanley’s friends were in Delhi to attend the funeral on Tuesday. Stanley and his mother will be buried at Burari Christian Cemetery.
A representative for Malayala Manorama said that HuffPost India’s request for comment had been sent to the concerned department. We will update this story once they respond.