February 17, 2009 1:17:43 am
Recipient of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award,Zaffar Iqbal spoke to a student gathering about what it takes to tackle terror head-on
When confronting terrorism,you have two options. You either give up or you fight back,” was the simple yet assertive response of Zaffar Iqbal,NDTV Special Correspondent. In town on the occasion of Combat Terror Day at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communications’ (SIMC) annual festival recently,Iqbal was himself the target of a terror attack in May 2002. A rookie reporter with a local newspaper in Srinagar back then,he was fired at from point blank range by three gunmen,took three bullets,one of them in the head,but miraculously survived.
“Being in Kashmir,I’ve seen many acts of violence over the years,but how I managed to survive that attack,which was actually a case of mistaken identity,is something which defies logic. I can only say that I survived because of the blessings and good wishes of my parents,” said Iqbal.
Awarded with the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award (2006-07) for bringing to the fore stories of hope in an atmosphere of violence and uncertainty,Iqbal’s coverage of the devastating earthquake in Kashmir also came in for much appreciation. “The award came as a pleasant surprise. While reporting stories,you don’t really think how much they could end up being appreciated or even that others are following your stories. So,it was an unexpected but pleasant surprise,” he added.
When asked if a new dawn was happening in Kashmir with the election of Omar Abdullah as the new Chief Minister,Iqbal said it was an exaggerated assessment of the situation. “It’s best not to talk in hyberbole in this context. No ‘new dawn’ is taking place here and it helps to have realistic expectations from politicians,” he added.
In a session where most speakers were pedantic in their approach,Iqbal’s interface with students at SIMC was more interactive and thus saw greater involvement. Conducted simply but with a grasp which can be attributed to having spent several years on the job,in one of the most difficult regions of the country,Iqbal’s session was interesting and thought-provoking,by turns.
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