Another protest, another camera broken: But this time the offending party replaced it

Sanesh, The New Indian Express photographer was attacked on June 9 by CPI (M) cadres.
Another protest, another camera broken: But this time the offending party replaced it
Another protest, another camera broken: But this time the offending party replaced it
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Journalists often find themselves at the receiving end of rage in all kinds of confrontational situations. The end result is sometimes damaged and broken equipment for which there is never any accountability.

While that is often the norm, CPI (M) in Kozhikode appears to be sending out a different message, when it decided to replace a photographer’s camera, after party activist damaged the equipment during a hartal in the district last week.

Sanesh, a senior photographer working with The New Indian Express, Kozhikode bureau, was attacked by a group of around ten CPI (M) activists at Palayam junction on the morning of June 9. The left party had called for a hartal in the district on that day, protesting against the attack on one of its offices allegedly by the right wing. 

Photo by Santhosh KK, used with permission

Sanesh, who was trying to click a photograph of the CPI (M) activists forcing the passengers in an autorickshaw to alight, ended up at the receiving end of ire from the activists, who assaulted him and destroyed his camera. Sanesh told TNM that the assault went on for a good ten minutes. Along with him, two other photographers--P Abhijith of Madhyamam daily and Sreejesh K V Keralabhooshanam daily--were attacked and their memory cards were taken away.

While not many people was witness to this attack, it was a photograph clicked by Mathrubhumi senior photographer Santhosh KK, that created ripples among media persons and on social media alike. 

The photo showed a CPI (M) activist tugging at Sanesh's shirt, while he tries to hold back his bag. A policeman can be seen trying to intervene. 

Photo by Santhosh KK, used with permission

However on Wednesday, P Mohanan, party district secretary handed over a brand new camera to Sanesh. Sanesh said that the party has given him the same model camera that the activists had destroyed. 

"It is a Nikon D300 S model camera that was worth Rs 82,000 when I bought it three years ago. But now, it is priced at Rs 98,000. It's a good thing that the party leadership has rectified an error its workers did and have set a benchmark for others to follow," said Sanesh, a native of Wayanad. 

Sanesh said that he received an unexpected call from the party secretary, Mohanan, on Wednesday around 9 pm, asking him to visit the party office. Sanesh, who went there with three other photographers (two of them were also attacked), was given the new camera. The other two photographers, who were attacked, were given a 16 GB memory card, as the party activists had destroyed their memory cards in the attack. 

He said that immediately after his camera was damaged by the CPI (M) activists, secretary Mohanan had assured him that the party would make arrangements to ease his loss. 

Recollecting the attack, the 33-year-old said, "I had reached the place by 7:45 am and that is when someone told me that the party workers were closing down Karnataka bank. After clicking the photo, I saw that some other workers were forcing passengers to get down from  an auto-rickshaw. While a few other photographers had already clicked the scene, they began to attack us when I attempted to click a photo." 

While many on social media had lauded the left party for its "responsible" gesture, it holds value for Sanesh, for he feels the incident has forced a political party to be accountable for its actions. 

"We photographers work without any protection or assurance for our safety. We have to often confront a mob of protesters to do our job. This gesture has set a goal for other parties to follow and has given confidence to thousands of photographers like me," Sanesh said. 

KK Santhosh, who clicked the photograph told TNM, "It is all dependent on the timing, you see. In the tussle that ensued, the CPI (M) activists somehow left me off and that's when I got a chance to click the photo." 

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