Sebastian D’Douza, then photo editor of Mumbai Mirror, took 19 photographs on the night of 26 November 2008, including the iconic one of Ajmal Kasab striding across the corridors of Bombay’s Victoria Terminus station, spraying bullets.
Now retired, “Saby”, as the lensman is known to friends and colleagues, testified before the trial judge, M.L. Tahiliyani, who called his testimony “blemishless”.
In August this year, the Supreme Court noted:
“While dealing with the VT carnage, we must take note of two witnesses (Saby and Shriram Vernekar). Their evidence is extraordinary in that they not only witnessed the incident but also made a visual record of the event by taking pictures of the two killers in action and their victims… Both the witnesses, caring little for their own safety and displaying exemplary professionalism, followed the killers,” said the SC.
After Kasab was hanged yesterday, The Times of India quotes Sebastian D’Souza as saying:
“While I can’t be happy over anybody’s death, Kasab’s hanging does put an end to this sordid chapter and may help the victims get some closure.”
Thomas Fuller profiled D’Souza for the International Herald Tribune:
When the gunfire started, Sebastian D’Souza was well placed to respond. From his office directly across the street, D’Souza, the photo editor of Mumbai Mirror, grabbed his Nikon and two lenses and headed out into the blood-soaked night.
Peering from behind pillars and running in and out of empty train cars, he emerged with the singular iconic image of the attacks: a clear shot of one of the gunmen.
“I was shaking, but I kept shooting,” D’Souza said as he scrolled through his pictures of the attacks in a recent interview at his office.
D’Souza’s photo of Muhammad Ajmal Kasab confidently striding through Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus carrying an assault rife with one hand, finger extended toward the trigger, has been printed and reprinted in newspapers here and flashed daily on television screens.
Sebastian D’Souza recounted the story in The Times of India:
“In the distance we saw two dark figures carrying rucksacks but weren’t sure who they were.”
Saby asked the constable to fire. One of the two figures swung at the sound and fired back. Looking over the barrel of a government-issue rifle Saby took his first shot of the night. Seconds later, he saw the owner of the book stall at the platform slump down, writhing in pain.
This was Saby’s second shot before he saw Shashank Shinde’s lifeless body. “It was the first realisation I had that I was in a far more serious situation than anything I’d covered before.” He watched the gunmen pump two more bullets into the book stall owner to make sure he was dead.
He also saw, from his hiding place, an old woman in an orange navwari sari walk past, oblivious as a sleepwalker; the gunmen looking at her and then away for other targets.
“I was terrified for her but they just let her walk by. I wonder why.”
By now he was hiding in one of the empty train compartments where he fitted the telephoto lens onto his Nikon D-200, and then crouching out barely a few inches he shot a couple of frames of one of the terrorists. He was no more than a boy, hair cut like Shah Rukh Khan in his Baazigar days, dressed in neatly ironed gray cargos, black tee-shirt, and carrying a bag that seemed heavier than his weight.
In the other hand he carried a Kalashnikov which, Saby saw clearly through his lens now, was raised in his direction.
Link via M.V.J. Kar
Also read: ‘I wish I had a gun rather than a camera’
External reading: Supreme Court praises TOI photographers
Amitabh Bachchan, the BBC’s “star of the millennium”, peers through a front-page of the Europe edition of The Wall Street Journal, in photographer Daboo Ratnani‘s calendar for October 2012.
Libran Mr Bachchan, who has had a stormy relationship with the Indian media, turns 70 today.
Also read: Amitabh Bachchan versus the Mumbai Mirror
Nothing has exposed the hollowness of so-called “political reporting” in New Delhi, and the fragilility of editorial spines of newspapers and TV stations across the country, than the Congress president Sonia Gandhi‘s illness.
Hundreds of correspondents cover the grand old party; tens of editors claim to be on on first-name terms with its who’s who; and at least a handful of them brag and boast of unbridled “access” to 10 Janpath.
Yet none had an inkling that she was unwell.
Or, worse, the courage to report it, if they did.
Indeed, when the news was first broken by the official party spokesman in August, he chose the BBC and the French news agency AFP as the media vehicles instead of the media scrum that assembles for the daily briefing.
Sonia Gandhi has since returned home but even today the inability of the media—print, electronic or digital—to throw light on just what is wrong with the leader of India’s largest political party or to editorially question the secrecy surounding it, is palpable.
Given the hospital she is reported to have checked into, the bazaar gossip on Sonia has ranged from cervical cancer to breast cancer to pancreatic cancer but no “political editor” is willing to put his/her name to it.
About the only insight of Sonia’s present shape has come from an exclusive photograph shot by Anil Sharma of The Indian Express last week.
In a counter-intuitive sort of way, Nirupama Subramanian takes up the silence of the media in The Hindu:
“That the Congress should be secretive about Ms Gandhi’s health is not surprising. What is surprising, though, is the omertà being observed by the news media, usually described by international writers as feisty and raucous.
“On this particular issue, reverential is the more fitting description. Barring editorials in the Business Standard and Mail Today, no other media organisation has thought it fit to question the secrecy surrounding the health of the government’s de facto Number One.
“A similar deference was on display a few years ago in reporting Atal Bihari Vajpayee‘s uneven health while he was the Prime Minister. For at least some months before he underwent a knee-replacement surgery in 2001, it was clear he was in a bad way, but no news organisation touched the subject. Eventually, the government disclosed that he was to undergo the procedure, and it was covered by the media in breathless detail.
“Both before and after the surgery, there was an unwritten understanding that photographers and cameramen would not depict Vajpayee’s difficulties while walking or standing. Post-surgery, a British journalist who broke ranks to question if the Prime Minister was fit enough for his job (“Asleep at The Wheel?” Time, June 10, 2002) was vindictively hounded by the government.
“Almost a decade later, much has changed about the Indian media, which now likes to compare itself with the best in the world. But it lets itself down again and again. The media silence on Ms Gandhi is all the more glaring compared with the amount of news time that was recently devoted to Omar Abdullah‘s marital troubles. The Jammu & Kashmir chief minister’s personal life has zero public importance. Yet a television channel went so far as to station an OB van outside his Delhi home, and even questioned the maid….
“Meanwhile, the media are clearly not in the mood to extend their kid-glove treatment of Ms Gandhi’s illness to some other politicians: it has been open season with BJP president Nitin Gadkari‘s health problems arising from his weight. Clearly, it’s different strokes for different folks.”
Read the full article: The omerta on Sonia‘s illness
Aakar Patel: Indian journalism is regularly second-rate
There is no other way to say this: the media will miss B.S. Yediyurappa. For three years and two months, the Karnataka chief minister was a photographer’s (and front page editor’s) dream come true, striking poses with his hands, legs, eyes, clothes and general demeanour.
(Thankfully, he has reassured us that he will be back in six months.)
There is also no other way to say this: still photography, especially news photography, is an absolute nightmare these days with television (and outsized advertisements) wrecking the scene. Rare is the photographer who manages to capture the present in a manner that might surprise posterity.
This superb frame, published by Kannada Prabha, in which Yediyurappa is adroitly pushing a laddoo into his successor D.V. Sadananda Gowda‘s mouth while simultaneously reining in his left hand and glowering at his arch-rival H.N. Ananth Kumar, is an exception.
It captures almost everything that has happened in the Karnataka BJP over the past week (and indeed in the past three years and two months, if not more), and it shows the tenuous relationships within the BJP, like perhaps no TV camera can. Or will.
Photograph: K.Ravi, courtesy Kannada Prabha
She is the doyenne of news photography in India; the country’s first woman news photographer. He is the master of magazine and feature photography.
Photograph: courtesy Mumbai Mirror
Also read: The woman who happily shot Nehru and Gandhi
The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, with the five newspaper editors he met for an interaction in New Delhi yesterday. Seated from left, clockwise, are the national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Divya Marathi editor Kumar Ketkar, Nayi Duniya editor Alok Mehta, the PM’s media advisor Harish Khare, The Tribune editor Raj Chengappa, PTI editor M.K. Razdan, Business Standard director and the president of the editors guild of India, T.N. Ninan, and PM’s secretary T.K.A. Nair.
Photographs: courtesy Press Trust of India