Where I Shut Up and Apologise

Sunil Triparthi is a student from Brown University from Pennsylvania. He has been missing since the 16th of March. His family are distraught and looking for him. He left his belongings and behind and has been missing with the last images of him leaving his apartment. He left a vague note and people indicate that he may have been depressed. People are worried for him and people want him to come home.

I am not in a good mood. Today is not a good day for a lot of Indians and a lot of people are “fucking pissed off”. This is a rant.

I was awake this morning when Reddit began it’s coverage of the MIT shoot out. I had a day off so decided to chill out on Ed Brayton’s regular Google+ Hangouts when people on it linked me to Reddit’s coverage of the MIT shoot out.

Then something weird happened. People indicated that these were the suspects from the Boston Marathon and reading the updates became car crash reading.

And then I noticed something “weird”. They named the suspects. Sunil Triparthi’s name came up. And it didn’t make sense to me. Saffron terror groups share the USA’s general “Islamophobia”. They LIKE Israeli Hawk Parties. They don’t like muslims. Why would they attack the USA.

So it got me thinking maybe he is a convert. So I did some research. The BBC’s website had the images of the suspects but no names. A variety of news sources began reporting Sunil Triparthi’s name.

But the source may genuinely be Reddit since the thread there was based on the police feed. Sunil’s name was mentioned on the original. I didn’t think to take a screenshot at the time (and even if I did I have no idea how to post screenshots on Linux…).

Sunil’s name was run by a variety of conservative news sources. Everyone began to run with that name and began postulating things about the still missing Sunil. No retractions. Just deletions so far. Hell, Infowars is still crowing about Sunil being the suspect.

Sunil Tripathi is still missing and his family want him to come home. He did not bomb the Boston Marathon.

Reddit  and everyone else who ran with the theory that he did effectively did to Tripathi what the Post did to Salah Eddin Barhoum. America has done this before with Richard Jewell.

Only they did it while Tripathi’s family wonders if he’s even still alive. The truth was revealed before the false accusation spread too far, but the damage was done. At some point last night, after the page on Facebook was filled with abuse and accusations. The Facebook group “Help Us Find Sunil Tripathi” was deleted by his family but has been recreated after he was cleared because the abuse was intolerable.

And I will apologise for myself. I myself believed he had something to do with this and jumped to the conclusions being bandied around by people. I jumped to conclusions and while I didn’t respond with the hate and harassment Sunil got, I responded with resignation.

A tremendous and painful amount of attention has been cast on our beloved Sunil Tripathi in the past twelve hours.We have known unequivocally all along that neither individual suspected as responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings was Sunil. We are grateful to all of you who have followed us on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit—supporting us over the recent hours. Now more than ever our greatest strength comes from your enduring support. We thank all of you who have reached out to our family and ask that you continue to raise awareness and to help us find our gentle, loving, and thoughtful Sunil.If you’ve seen Tripathi or if you have information about his whereabouts, call the Providence Police at (401) 641-8691.

And he is loved.

Pass it On. If anyone has seen him or knows of his whereabouts let his family know through the Providence Police at (401) 641-8691.

And once again. If you were part of the harassment brigade then bite your tongues and apologise. It may not undo the damage but it’s necessary. Show some responsibility.

Pass it on. It’s the least we can do for our actions. The lie may have been passed on, but now pass on the truth.


  1. grignon says

    I have decided that the World Wide Web is a curse on us. The benefits lie only in dollars and seconds but the costs are in lives and our humanity.

  2. says

    Someone mentioned his name on my Facebook page last night and I immediately asked how anyone can know that, since the FBI had not, at that point, named the two suspects whose pictures they had released. I was told that CNN, the New York Post and the BBC had all reported it. I replied:

    Given how badly the news media has botched this from the start, rushing information into print and on the air without it being confirmed, I think I’d rather wait for the FBI to release those names before assuming that’s who they are.

    The first suspect who was killed was also wrongly identified as Mike Mulugeta, though the first person who reported that on Twitter said they heard it on the police scanner. This is why you shouldn’t try to seize on all these little bits of information to come to a premature conclusion. Even after the FBI knew who these two guys were, the media was still reporting that they’d been in America only a year and that they had foreign military training. Turns out they’ve been here for years (one was a citizen, the other a permanent resident) and had no military experience at all. Every media outlet should have been saying one thing: We have no fucking idea what is going on or what the truth is; we’ll let you know when we do. And those keyboard warriors who think they’re helping by identifying people that they think may have had something to do with it should drink a huge steaming cup of shut the fuck up.

  3. says

    The BBC reports didn’t carry his name. They reported it as “some people are saying it’s this guy, but it’s not confirmed”. I have been getting my stuff from their feed.

    I think the issue was redditors + police talking to someone called Sunil because it’s a pretty common name.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Sunil Triparthi was one of several such false identifications :


    There were lots of rumours and some even made it into the TV coverage before the Chechen brothers got their identities as the Boston marathon terrorists confirmed. I wish they’d been named officially earlier to avoid some of those confusions – at the first (?) press conference officials were very tight lipped.

    There was also, if memory serves one man who was filmed being stripped naked before his arrest and loading into a police car if possibly unreliable (half asleep whilst watching news at time) memory serves.


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