Photojournalists’ Eyewitness Account

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The two photo-journalists who reached the spot within minutes after the Pampore attack were shocked to see the volume of the crisis. CRPF, the main target of the attack, was in serious distress as their slain and critically injured colleagues were being evacuated. They were being given the first aid by the army. Those who survived with minor injuries were literally drenched in the blood of their colleagues. They were scared, nervous and angry.

“We clicked whatever we found worth recording and then the situation dictated us to keep the shutters closed. There was a much bigger situation brewing which required our attention,” one senior photo journalist said. “A senior army officer had asked the CRPF personnel to leave the spot but there were crowds of civilians at a distance, hooting and almost ready to resort to brick-bating. CRPF men were desperate to leave but feared they will be attacked.”

Some of the soldiers in anger had already started damaging the civil transport that was around. The situation was about to get out of hand, one of them said. “One of the CRPF officials told his colleagues that if they get a stone fire at them and make way while firing. For us it was scary,” the photo-journalist said.

“We could feel that the CRPF men would not mind making their way out of the crowds but it will have a huge cost, they will fire their way up,” he said. “Then we told CRPF men that they should move and we will guide you to your nearest installation.” They had heard the command: Goli Martay Chalo Aagay.

They had survived one of the quickest and the fierce attacks on them. Two militants attacked a bus that was on its way home from CRPF firing range in Awantipore and killed eight personnel as 21 others survived injured. Two militants were eventually killed but many of the injured still in hospitals may not be able to walk. They will survive crippled.

Pampore’s attack was the third recent militant on highway. Earlier, militants struck at paramilitary vehicle near Sempora before entering Entrepreneur Development Institute (EDI) to trigger 48-hour long EDI siege. Lately, a deadly attack on a police officer took place at Bijbehara on Srinagar-Jammu highway.

But given the magnitude of casualty and execution of the attack, Pampore attack had an uncanny resemblance with Jun 24, 2013 Hydepora attack that killed 8 army men and left 19 injured.

State Police Chief K Rajindra Kumar was quick to term Pampore attack a ‘snake attack’. Surviving in such an attack had made them tense and nervous. They did not want another militant attack or a crowd stone pelting.

There was another danger lurking around. Hundreds of people were in their vehicles on the roads. Amy firing could have triggered another massacre.

The news-photographers said that those were the tensest moments till they literally guided the CRPF personnel to reach the nearest bunker on the Pampore Karewa. “All along we had to do two jobs simultaneously,” one of the two photographers said. “We were pacifying the CRPF personnel and reassuring them that nobody will attack them and at the same time we were shouting at the crowds begging them neither to hoot nor to throw a stone. We told them categorically that these men have survived in a serious attack and if they resort to stone pelting, they will open fire.” The CRPF men had actually unlocked their rifles.

Both the photographers said that the crowds responded to their pleas. “They heard us and they believed us and that helped us to save the situation,” one of them said. “In between we lost some of the great clicks of the crisis but life was saved.”

 

 

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