Photojournalist drops camera to save girl hit by stone during Kashmir protest

The image of Dar Yasin running with the girl in his arms was captured by another young photojournalist and has gone viral, striking a chord with hundreds of Kashmiris.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2017 13:29 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Kashmir photographer,Kashmir unrest,Photojournalism
AP photojournalist Dar Yasin rushes to the hospital with Khusboo.(Photo courtesy: Faisal Khan)

Press photographer Dar Yasin was out on a regular assignment on Thursday in Srinagar, covering a student protest against security forces when he noticed Khusboo Jan, profusely bleeding.

Khusboo, a class 12 student, was one of scores of high-school girls demonstrating in the Nawakadal area of Srinagar when a stone hit her on the forehead and cracked open her skull.

Blood gushed out, splattering her white school uniform and hijab, as she collapsed. Her friends panicked: There was no one to help them, only hostile-looking policemen and a battery of presspeople.

But Yasin knew what he had to do. The Associated Press staffer tossed his camera aside, leapt to Khusboo and scooped her in his arms and rushed to get her a cab to the nearest hospital .

This image – of Yasin running with the girl in his arms – was captured by another young photojournalist and has gone viral, striking a chord with hundreds of Kashmiris.

Many are comparing Yasin with Syrian photographer Abd Alkader Habak, who was captured in a now-iconic photograph picking up a young boy and running to safety after a bomb hit a convoy of buses.

For millions, the photo – clicked earlier this week -- brought home the horrors of war but also rekindled hope in humanity. Many on social media say Yasin has done the same for them in a region where human bonds have been eroded by decades of insurgency.

“I told the girl’s friends that I have two daughters and this girl is just like one of them. If you are the father of two girls or if you are a father of any child, you cannot just see anyone’s child helplessly suffering like that,” says Yasin, whose daughters are aged 7 and 10.

A Kashmiri student throws a stone during a protest in Srinagar last week. (REUTERS)

The 43-year-old has covered Kashmir since 2002 and received at least 15 international and national awards for his work. He says he picked up the girl when he realised no one was around to help her. “Looking back, I feel happy that I helped her. Pictures will keep coming,” he says. The story has a happy ending: The girl got to the hospital in time, was treated and is now stable.

Yasin says in a conflict zone, photographers are often faced with such a dilemma: Of whether to take pictures or keep the camera aside for some time and help the wounded. He brushes aside praise for thinking about the girl first, and not his photography.

“I am not the first one to have done this. I can tell you there are so many guys on the field in Kashmir who would have done the same what I did that day,’ Yasin adds.

The image was captured by young Srinagar-based photojournalist Faisal Khan. “Dar Yasin handed the camera to someone else, lifted he girl and began running. My first instinct was to assist him, but then I realised I should capture this moment in a picture,” Khan tells Hindustan Times.

“We got a cab to stop, put Khusboo and some of her friends in it and they were taken to SMHS hospital,” Khan says, adding that the incident was a lesson for him on how to react in a tough situation.

Who caused the injury is still unclear: Police say the stone that hit Khusboo came from miscreants and students, locals say otherwise.

Khan’s picture has been widely appreciated by Kashmiris, who are hailing Yasin’s act as immensely humanitarian and responsible. Senior journalist Yusuf Jameel tweeted Khan’s picture, commenting: “Proud of you colleagues. This is a commitment to embrace and embed social responsibility into our personal and professional values.”

First Published: Apr 22, 2017 16:43 IST