“Bada adventurous assignment hai Sharma ji, mera bhi video shoot kariyega,” is what Doordarshan cameraman Achyutanand Sahu (34) requested lighting assistant Mormukut Sharma (35) on Tuesday morning, as they readied to leave for an assignment in a village in Dantewada.
Sharma shot a quick 30-second video of Sahu at work — holding a camera, as DD reporter Dheeraj Kumar (37) interviewed a villager.
“Barely 15 minutes after I shot that video, we were attacked and Sahu died in the Maoist ambush. I was on the third bike behind him and saw him get shot and fall. I didn’t even get to show him the video,” Sharma told The Indian Express on Thursday evening, as he walked till India Gate with a candle in his hand in memory of Sahu. Kumar and Sharma returned to the Capital Wednesday night.
In the video, as the DD crew goes about their job, they are surrounded by armed police personnel, and as the camera pans, the road that the crew takes minutes later can be seen.
“Do you see that road? It was here that we were attacked. I fell from the bike, so did Dheeraj jii… and we lay metres from each other for 45 minutes. An injured jawan lay near me, writhing in pain, but I couldn’t move and help him,” said Sharma.
Two days before Sahu left for Chhattisgarh, he bought a Canon camera for Rs 60,000. “We wanted to make fun videos… he shot the Bastar waterfalls on it. Our plan after Tuesday’s assignment was to work on a comical script and shoot a funny video in the hotel room,” said Sharma.
A video that Sharma shot — telling his mother he may not survive the attack, with the sound of gunfire in the background — went viral on Wednesday.
“I had to let my mother know I love her… I also took a selfie of me smiling so that in case I died, she could remember me as her smiling son. At that moment I had no fear, I remembered a line from the Bhagavad Gita: vartamaan hi jeevan hai,” he said.
Sharma, who has been with DD for 14 years, lives in Haryana’s Palwal with his mother, brother and sister-in-law. After being rescued, the first person he called was a senior colleague at DD News to let him know about Sahu’s death.
“I didn’t have the strength to call my mother… I met her this morning and we hugged and cried. We didn’t say a word. I made sure she didn’t find out about the incident till late Wednesday,” said Sharma.
A condolence meeting for Sahu was held at Press Club of India by DD on Thursday afternoon, and a candle march till India Gate after that. It was attended by DD staff, members of Indian Women’s Press Corps, Working News Cameraman’s Association, and Press Association, who discussed the need for a journalist protection Bill and the responsibility of owners of media houses, state and central governments.
DD News anchor Ashok Srivastava said, “All DD employees are donating one day’s salary to Sahu’s family.”