Dubai: The colleagues of a former UAE resident killed in a lightning strike in India on June 6 were shocked to see images of a burnt body being circulated on social media that claimed it was his.
Multiple images of a burnt body were circulated, but the one that went viral was that of a man burnt to death in a car accident in Kerala some days ago.
The deceased, H.M. Ramesh, 45, who worked as operations manager in a hypermarket chain, had left the UAE for good only six months ago, according to his colleagues.
Following a brief stint with another hypermarket group in Oman, he returned to Chennai, his native place in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, K. Prabhakaran, his friend and business partner told Gulf News over phone from Tamil Nadu.
“After he came back, we started an export business of fruits and vegetables. We had gone to see the aqua farm of one of our friends in Arambakkam when the incident happened,” he said.
Prabhakaran said Ramesh started clicking pictures of the site as soon after they got out of the car when lightning struck. Prabhakaran and two other friends were thrown away due to the impact, but Ramesh was killed on the spot.
“He died in a second... The back of his mobile phone melted… but strangely, its front didn’t even have a scratch,” Prabhakaran said.
An investigating officer with Tamil Nadu police, who handled the case, provided the actual photos of Ramesh to Gulf News and said: “He suffered burns on his chest, stomach and feet, but his clothes were intact.”
However, the news about his death went viral on social media in south India and in the UAE.
The viral message contains a voice note in which the sender talks about Ramesh’s death and requests everyone not to use mobile phones during a thunderstorm. It also features images of a completely burnt body lying on a road.
Gulf News found out that the voice belonged to Mohammad Basheer A, general manager of the Sharjah branch of the hypermarket chain where Ramesh worked.
Basheer said he had attached a formal photo of Ramesh along with the message when he first shared it in his family group.
“It was a big shock for me to know he died like this. I had sent his photo and the voice note purely to advise them to be careful,” he said.
However, when the message was forwarded to several others, he said some people started attaching false images.
“In some messages, they are using some other photos also. However, the images of the burnt body are the ones that have been forwarded the most. That was the body of a man who was burnt to death in a car accident in Kerala some days ago.”
Basheer and other former colleagues of Ramesh are pained by the irresponsible act of some social media users.
“All of us were shocked to see those images. Many people have been calling me to check about them. I feel so sorry for his family and just hope that such wrong messages do not reach them and upset them more,” Basheer said.
Ramesh’s wife and nine-year-old daughter now live in Chennai.
Basheer said he has sent out another voice note to all his contacts clarifying the situation and requesting people to stop forwarding false images.
“I have asked people to send his original photo and the link to the news reports about his death that came out in India to those who are forwarding the fake messages,” he said.