Shocking news emerged on Tuesday when Doordarshan cameraperson Achyuthanand Sahu was shot dead during a Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada district. The attack also resulted in the deaths of two police personnel, constable Vishnu Netam, and assistant constable Rakesh Gautam.
Achyuthanand was accompanied by two of his colleagues, reporter Dheeraj Kumar and assistant Mormukut Sharma, who witnessed the attack. In tragic videos that have emerged from the incident, Mormukut can be seen recording what he believed to be his last message to his mother, as he believed that he too would die.
Tweeted by Republic TV journalist Aditya Raj Kaul, the first video shows Mormukut lying on the ground, in the undergrowth of the forest beside the road which they were driving on.
“There has been a terrorist attack. We are in Dantewada… had come for election coverage. We were on our way and the army was with us. Suddenly, we were surrounded by Naxals,” he says to the camera, as gunshots are heard in the background.
“Mummy, if I am alive… it will be a consolation. Mummy, I love you a lot. It’s possible I may be killed in this attack. The circumstances are not right,” he says, and adds after a pregnant pause, “I don’t know why, I don’t feel afraid even though I can see death before me. It is difficult to survive… There are 6-7 jawaans here. They have surrounded us. I will just say this…”
Dramatic video by the Doordarshan Journalist Mormukut during the Maoist terror attack yesterday in Dantewada during which his colleague from national broadcaster along with 2 Chattisgarh Police Jawans were killed. Life of journalists working in conflict zones is very difficult. pic.twitter.com/JLdjDJUWOY— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 31, 2018
In the second video, someone (presumably one of the jawaans) can be heard shouting that an ambulance be called quickly. One jawaan then says to Mormukut to keep lying on the ground. Mormukut asks for water, to which the jawaan replies, “No friend, you keep lying low. Party has come, don’t worry.” The jawaan is then heard talking to his colleagues.
Yet another video of the encounter site yesterday in Dantewada of Chattisgarh. Important to note that Govt needs to improve equipment and technological support to the district force as well as the CRPF. Forces too are sitting ducks in the interior jungles of Maoist corridor. pic.twitter.com/5pH0Joeds3— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) October 31, 2018
According to reports, the Doordarshan team had come to Chhattisgarh to shoot a poster by Naxals to boycott the elections that are supposed to happen next month. The reporter Deepak told News18 that while he and Mormukut were on bikes with the jawaans, Achyuthanand was ahead of them on foot. “Suddenly we heard a cracking sound and saw Sahu drop. I wasn't sure what had happened but my bike skidded and I fell in the ditch next to the road,” he said.
Mormukut said that a bullet hit Achyuthanand on his temple, even as he tried to indicate with his camera and DD IDs that they were from the press to the attackers.
Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallav, who had been waiting a few kilometres away, rushed to the site after he heard gunshots. However, three people were dead by then. He said that he did not know if he was the real target, but going by the Naxals’ anti-media slogans, it seems as though they were targeting the journalists.
Deepak said that there were over 200 attackers who waited to ambush them, and fired non-stop for 45 minutes.
Achyuthanand hailed from Ghusuramunda village in Bolangir, Odisha. He was married to 24-year-old Himanchali, who came to know about her husband’s demise through news channels. The couple had gotten married in February 2017.