As the three-member Doordarshan News crew readied to journey to a village in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-affected Dantewada district for an assignment on Tuesday morning, cameraperson Achyutnanda Sahu volunteered to sit behind the jawan right up front — with his camera perched on his thigh.
He told DD News reporter Dheeraj Kumar (37) that it would be easier to document the village this way. “He told me a camera will probably assure people that we are journalists, and wouldn’t be attacked…I was on the fourth bike behind him,” said Kumar.
This was minutes before 34-year-old Sahu was killed in a Maoist ambush in Neelavaya village, along with constable Vishnu Netam, and assistant constable Rakesh Gautam.
His wife, Himanchali (24) had spoken to him hours before the incident at 8 am about the usual — when they woke up, what they ate, and where he was headed. She also saw the photos from Chhattisgarh he had posted on Facebook a few hours ago.
“She was alone at home when a news channel flashed that a DD cameraman had been killed in Dantewada. When I rushed to her, she was just sitting in bed and crying… she told me she didn’t have the strength to ask for help when she saw the news,” said their landlady Parveen More (50).
At 3.30 pm, along with her cousin Vijay Sahu and DD News Director Ram Kripal Yadav, she left for Raipur. “She’s not talking…we are yet to decide where to take the body from Raipur,” said Vijay.
Sahu was based in Delhi and joined DD News in 2013 as a cameraman. Along with Kumar and light assistant Mormukut Sharma, he was in Chhattisgarh to the cover the Assembly election scheduled on November 12.
Sahu hailed from Ghusuramunda village in Odisha’s Bolangir and is survived by his wife, parents, and three brothers. He got married to Himanchali in February 2017, and they lived in a rented house in Bhagwati Garden Extension, Dwarka Mor.
DD News Director General Mayank Aggarwal said, “He joined us five years ago, he was a dedicated cameraman who had travelled extensively for work. Our team was constantly in touch with him since he left.”
Two days before he left for Chhattisgarh, Sahu had purchased a brand-new Canon camera worth Rs 60,000, according to his colleague Sushil Sharma. “He was so excited about it… I met him in office the day he left for Chhattisgarh and told him to be careful because it’s a conflict zone. He has been there before and was looking forward to the coverage,” said Sharma.