Who killed Gopal Kashyap?
The scene was political debate in Hibiya Hall, Tokyo. Photographer Yasishu Nagao had only one shot left in his hefty quarter-plate Speed Graphic press camera. He, therefore, sullenly stayed in his seat when other photographers rushed to cover some commotion in the back of the hall. Suddenly, however, a 17-year-student rushed up on to the stage and stabbed Japanese socialist leader Asanuma with a sword and then prepared to attack him again. Nagao instinctly waited for a clear view then pressed the shutter. “He got just a paltry sum of $10 for that picture from his paper Mainachi without even a credit line! Later, however, the picture, besides several top awards, won even Pulitzer Prize in 1961; the highest honour in the field of literature and journalism.” The big question is: Shouldn’t he rather have been held as an accomplice to the murder, that he perhaps knew in advance what was going to happen on stage and “mercilessly” waited to find appropriate angle to get his picture, instead of hurriedly dumping his valuable equipment aside to jump onto the stage and try to save the politico? At least this last stands true if we take journalist Barkha Dutt’s article ‘Did we kill him?’ seriously, with her emphasis on “the camera crew filmed mercilessly”.
Classically the impact on the readers too, has been as expected; considering the brickbats from all sides that are falling on us.
The write-up definitely started with a right note that “Gopal Kashyap was one of many left behind in India’s march to modernity”. It is sad, however, that in her witchhunt she lost her sense of direction; like a compass gone berserk on a flight over Bermuda Triangle, and the finger of accusation finally came to rest on us cameramen. I collected several stones hurled at us in the write-up like merciless, mad media men, preying vultures, hyperactive media, competitive banality, telethon of manufactured reality and what not. It has really taken us by surprise; more so coming from the chief of a section of the media the very existence of which rests on this sole artery; the visual image.
Only the cameras have a power to capture truth in an instant of time and present it as concrete evidence. Please do not forget that without this visual support the press would lose its impact and the electronic media would not exist at all. It is not the presence of the camera but its absence that would bring instant death to the cause of which Gopal Kashyap’s end was an effect. And the stone hurling ‘couch potatoes’ will squirm restlessly on their fluffy sofas without the channels that thrive upon us by using our shoulders for training their guns hunting for on-the-spot news and sting operations. We are dedicated to our duty and go into the field like soldiers leaving our emotions behind, and without guns or shields.
Yet we are sworn to bring back truth and raw truth fearlessly (not ‘mercilessly’ as projected in the write-up), braving bullets and brickbats. It is for the people at the helm of the affairs to present it, not to present it or just partially present it before the public.
The media, however, cannot deny that it has to have in its hands the actual truth as concrete evidence before it speaks. Was it not on the basis of that video clip only that the authorities suspended the police inspector and promised to take suitable action against others who contributed in any way to the whole affair?
Finally, I would like to shout loudly that, be it the Ayodhya affair, Lal Chauk, or any other troubled spot, in the line of our duty and dedication, we have to also bear the ire from every side; of the terrorists, of rioters, demonstrators and often even of the police men who are supposed to protect us. So please do leave us to our selves and let us perform our duty sincerely, after all we have also got to live.