The Defining Image of Carnage!

––Gujarat riots embodying the horror of worst episode of communal violence.

He knew he was going to die, he looked at his two months old little kid in his wife’s arms whose embrace was like, “I will die but won’t let my baby harmed by anyone.”

Behind his wife was flare of raging fire. He looked down on open street. He didn’t see any human face, just an ocean of swords, trishools, iron rods, spheres. It was a huge mob.

Desperate for his family, his eyes poured another ocean of tears. But, no tears, no way of begging for mercy could move the mob. They all were waiting for fire to engulf this family too. The balcony of second floor was the place he wad standing, helplessly and hopelessly begging for life from those who had killed everybody on ground floor, and set the building on fire.

He was wearing a light check shirt, stained with dried blood. His faintly bloodshot eyes were glazed with fear. His hands were folded in an expression of obeisance, hiding a mouth agape. It was disturbing study of fear and helplessness.

–– Cover Face of Brutal Massacre of Muslims in 2002.

The unchecked rioting had entered its second consecutive day. A group of photo journalists was hitching a ride with a van full of soldiers trying to bring the city under control.

When the van entered the highway before midday, they found the sky was black with smoke from the fires and the road was strewn with bricks and stones.

The military van moved with its headlights on. It was darkness at noon. There was frenzy all around. The city had gone mad. Mobs armed with swords and stones from neighbourhoods across the highway were crossing over and attacking and setting fire to shops and homes on the other side. People watched this grisly show from their homes across the road.

The van sputtered on past the building where he stood when one of the photo journo looked back for a moment and saw him on balcony. The Man looked through the telephoto lens, and clicked, three or four shots possibly, all in a fraction of a second, with a flash. That was it.

Standing on the balcony, he noticed a flash behind a layer of smoke, instinctively he raised his hands and called for help, and he didn’t stop.

In the military van, journalist insisted soldiers to help the family to get out of the inferno.

It was his last chance, he was pleading for help, when he saw a military van emerged out of smoke, the doors opened and soldiers jumped out on the street. They immideatly fired four five shots in the air and in seconds the street was deserted. The bravehearts fled.

The family came down from the back of the building, while the jawans took the position to guard them. Little later they were being driven in another military van to safety.

Next morning, his picture had made it to the front pages of newspapers around the world. World called it:
…“the defining image of the Gujarat Carnage.”

His life went into a tailspin. The picture followed him wherever he went. It haunted him, drove him out of his job, and his state.

He ran away to Malegaon to live with his sisters and had been working there for a fortnight when a co-worker walked into the shop with a newspaper carrying his picture. His boss didn’t want any trouble and fired him immediately.

SIMI, LeT types used the picture in an email claiming to have carried out an attack as a revenge of Gujarat Massacre which has the cover face of him. Islamic Extremists freely put out adverts using the picture to gain the sympathy. This pic enraged muslim youths to join terrorist outfits, they were all ready to carry out even Fidayeen Attacks in order to seek revenge. One pic had changed the minds of many.

Later on, a resident of Pune wrote to him, giving him all his contacts and asking him to get in touch with him if he ever needed any help.

–– Moved On as the haze dispersed.

Today, he has his own home in his own city Ahmadabad, with all the necessities. On ground floor he setup a small unit of readymade shirts, he is making around 30 thousand a month.

–– His kid has grown and gives company to his sister born later.

A Click of Unforgettable Stranger’s Camera did it all for good.

…shabab khan (Author)

An Indispired Story.


About Shabab Khan

A Journalist, Philanthropist; Author of 'The Magician', 'Go!', 'Brutal'. Being a passionate writer, I am into Journalism and writing columns, news stories, articles for top media house. Twitter: @khantastix
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1 Response to The Defining Image of Carnage!

  1. I remember that face vividly from the newspapers in 2002. It was the day before a Board exam for me, and I remember I broke down in helpless anger, sadness and frustration when I saw it… it spoke to me so powerfully.


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