'Photographs I took that day still haunt me'
Covering a rally or any other expression of protest at Azad Maidan is a routine task for me. But on August 11, the protest that killed two and injured over 60 people has left behind scars, both on my person and in my mind.
I remember taking a few shots of the protest, and then deciding to leave. But soon I noticed smoke billowing from a vehicle that had been torched, and realising that the mob had turned violent, I ran back towards the maidan. I saw that protesters were burning down OB and police vans.
I got busy covering the riots. I saw a few men damaging the Amar Jawan memorial, and quickly changed my lens to get a clearer view. While clicking the photographs, I had no idea they would later be used to nab one of the culprits.
I saw that the police had swung into action, and was lathi-charging. I took shots of them at work, and decided to move in the direction of the police battalion, my years of experience telling me that being near the police was the safest option during a lathi-charge.
However, my wisdom failed me that day. While I was clicking photographs of the police lathi-charging, a few cops charged at me. It was evident that I was not a rioter, and the expensive camera I was carrying was ample indication that I was a photographer covering the protest.
But all my pleas fell on deaf ears and the lathis fell on my head. Photographers from other papers intervened and confirmed that I was a photojournalist, and only then did they stop. By then, my head and hands were injured and I had to be admitted to the hospital.
Now, I am back at work taking photographs as usual, but every time I see the pictures I clicked on August 11, the incident comes back to haunt me. I was doing my job then, and will continue to do so.