22-year old Tarun Sehrawat, a photo journalist with Tehelka, passed away on Friday battling some deadly diseases which he contracted during his week-long official trip to Abujmarh in the Maoist dominated Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
After fighting a brave battle with the mix of frightening diseases he finally gave up on Friday.
Well, isn’t it important for a organisation to guide the journalists, who are ready to fight all the odds to bring out the truth to us, with some precautionary measures and prepare them for such rough trips.
Sehrawat would have been alive if a detailed research would have been done and proper support and training would have been provided to the scribes before sending them on such ‘tough trip for truth’.
Tehelka has blamed absence of healthcare in the area for Sehrawat’s death but ironical it is that if the organisation was aware about the circumstances Sehrawat and Tusha would have to deal with in the area then why did they take the challenges so lightly and let off the two on their mission with just few water bottles and packets of biscuits.
They did not even carry mosquito nets and chlorine tablets to treat their drinking water.
Such tragedies like Tarun\\\’s demise can be avoided if an organisation take few basic measures and provide specific trainings and information to the reporters about the possible health hazards,vaccinations and precautions.
In Indian media, we have this habit to often glorify the lackings and resourcelessness of our ground reporters during these kind of daring tasks rather than providing proper risk assesments, health and food care back-up arrangements, insurances and other necessary support. We can\\\’t put their lives at risks and then force them to be \\\’Shaheeds\\\’.
Fighting for cause
The brave photo journalist along with a colleague Tusha Mittal stayed there for a week to bring some first hand accounts of life in the villages there.
Tarun and Tusha had gone on this ardous trip just with twelve mineral water bottles, few packets of Maggi noodles, biscuits and some medicines.
They wanted to find out the truth about the place which had been labelled as the centre of the Maoist insurgency by the Indian government.
They could not find tubewells, hand pumps in the area. There were only streams which were used by both animals and human beings.
Tarun was forced to dring from a pond, where the water even after boiling would turn yellow.
They slept in open next to the pigs and dogs without any protection from insects.
Falciparum malaria, ricketssial fever, jaundice and typhoid are common here. Several die here routinely due to these dreaded diseases and the deaths go unreported.
There are no health centres in and around Abujmarh.
Tusha, who was suffering from fever and stomach infection, is stable now. But Shehrawat was hit by cocktail of diseases like cerebral malaria, typhoid and jaundice. His liver, kidney had collapsed and his brain was infected.