Saturday, June 16, 2012

A tribute to the courage and commitment of a Tehelka photojournalist

Early in May, Tarun Sehrawat, Tehelka's staff photographer, accompanied the magazine's reporter Tusha Mittal to Abujmarh, the Maoists' stronghold in Chhattisgarh.

Tusha is 27 years old; Tarun was just 22.

Tehelka managing editor Shoma Chaudhury, in her "Editor's Cut" column of May 26, told us what happened in Abujmarh:

At one level, this is a glorious story of courage and commitment. Two weeks ago, these reporters had gone into Abujmarh, the unbreached citadel of the Maoists, walking 40 km on foot into remote and hostile terrain. They had nothing but a few bottles of drinking water and some packets of biscuits. But they refused to turn back when water and food ran out. They refused to turn back even when they saw notices from the Maoists warning of mines and traps ahead. They wanted to bring back first-hand accounts of life in the villages there and they stayed their course till they got the story they wanted.

Read the column in its entirety here: "Living in cities, we walk like tourists, unmindful of the hellishness of others’ lives, until it actually hits us".

Then, three days ago, Chaudhury gave readers the sad news. Sehrawat, who, along with Mittal, had contracted a ravaging fever while on the field trip, had lost his battle for life. (Mittal, thankfully, has recovered and is well, we are informed.)

In a magnificent tribute to Tarun Sehrawat, posted on the magazine's website on June 15, Tehelka has showcased not only the photographs he took in Abujmarh but also the pictures he shot for Tehelka over the years. Read the tribute here: "Tarun always made the most difficult choices with the lightest smile".

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