'We will burn the van, with or without you, the mob warned us'

First person account of the violence by Vilas Kale, OB van engineer with ABP Majha

mumbai Updated: Aug 12, 2012 01:27 IST
Hindustan Times

On Saturday, we were waiting in Outdoor Broadcast (OB) van as we usually do when we cover rallies.

At around 2.30pm, the crowd at Azad Maidan started growing. People began approaching our vehicle. I was getting worried; I felt it was dangerous to leave the vehicle.

Thousands of people, mostly youngsters, had occupied every inch of the road and there was no way to get out. They were carrying some posters and a garland of chappals as well — though I do not know what they did with that.

Many of them were shouting and also using abusive language. They also scribbled some abuses on the van with a sketch pen. Then, they smashed the window. That's when I realised that the situation was getting out of hand.

Then they asked us to get out. They said, "We will burn the van anyway - with you, or without you. Better if you leave the vehicle." At the same time, they kept on shouting, "Why doesn't the media show what is going on in Myanmar?"

The crowd ejected us from the vehicle. People from other OB vans were also forced out. We had barely reached the corner of Canon Pav Bhaji Centre when our van was torched. It went up in flames in no time.

Although policemen were present near the vehicle, they could do nothing - they were badly outnumbered.

We ran towards Excelsior Theatre and waited for nearly an hour. But no place was safe.

As crowds poured out of neighbouring lanes towards Azad Maidan, everything in sight and within reach was smashed.

(As told to Prachi Pinglay)

First Published: Aug 12, 2012 01:25 IST