‘The only foolproof precaution to work in a place like Dantewada is to not work at all’
Photographers have front-row seats to the end of the world. was the one who walked into it sans suspicion, says
A LONG time ago in Dantewada, when I had first gotten into trouble for doing my job, a veteran journalist very calmly told me, “This job is a marathon, not a 100 metre sprint.” Since those words were first uttered to me in May 2009, I myself have used them countless times with those who have followed me.
Tarun Sehrawat sprinted across us at the age of 23, and you are suddenly stuck with the redundancy of your own marathon.
The war you don’t see, the war you remember, has a funny way of catching you back home. There are always faces around the street bend who can remind you of those who have died, or those you feel you have lost. Tarun dies at 23, and you can never seem to get over the fact that he is never going to grow up with the rest of us, and we are surrounded by generations of young people who may never even know where Dantewada is. Tarun may never see the end of the war in Dantewada, something that none of us may either. He will never see his work, his photographs of Chidambaram’s war, at the end of peace.
A few weeks before their ill-fated trip into Abujmarh, Tusha Mittal had called and asked me to accompany her to Dantewada. At that point, it was only meant to be Tusha and myself, and I would have been taking on the duties of the photographer if her editors approved. I had said no, because if I had gone, I would have been sprinting on the tightrope for reasons best