Yesterday, in the absence of my colleague who normally downloads photos from the agency server, I was looking at the photographs of the gruesome scenes from Lahore Ahmadi mosques and West Bengal train tragedy.
There were far too many of them. In my busyness, I did not pay any particular attention to any of them. But this post from Professor Apoorvanand at Kafila did ring a bell:
My hand trembles as I write again. To say that it is murder, mass murder and we cannot remain silent when faced with such horror. I do not know who is responsible for this and what caused it. Was it a bomb blast or tempering with the fish plates which derailed the Gyaneshwari Express train near Midnapur in Bengal? Who did it? Was the PCPA involved as claimed by criminally inefficient police of Bengal citing two posters owning the blasts? Or it was not, as claimed by its spokesperson Asit Mahto? How do we condemn the deaths of ‘innocent civilians’ when we do not know the source of violence? Is it not a possibility that some actors, covertly sponsored by the state did it to further defame theCPI(Moist)? Or could it be the handiwork of the CPI( Marxist) which has an ability to organize violence in Bengal again to besmirch the revolutionary reputation of the CPI( Maoist) and also to justify a military campaign against them?
We can discuss the possibilities endlessly and our speculations or even our fact findings would have little bearing on the way and style of thinking which leads to acts like the blowing up of the Bus in Chhatisgarh or derailing the train in Bengal. What is happening gradually is that we are getting accustomed to violence and would very soon stop reacting to it. To get used to violence as a society is horrible... [Read on here]
I was reminded of this post again in the morning today when, still fighting sleep and fatigue, I vaguely glanced at the front page of a prominent Delhi newspaper, and what seemed like one of the photos I had personally filed yesterday.
Its caption was almost as impersonal as the ones that had come along with the agency photos:
"Security personnel bring out the body of a young girl from a compartment..."
I remembered filing a similar description in our photo gallery, taken and edited from the agency caption, and a very similar photo:
I hadn't had my coffee yet. A friend called to ask if I had noticed the choice of two photos on the front pages of two rival Delhi newspapers.
No, I said, I hadn't.
Turn to the other paper, she said: It has the twin of the one you've seen.
So I did.
Uncomprehendingly, at first.
The frail child looked almost the same.
Though it seemed to have a different coloured dress on.
Read the caption, I was told.
Unfortunately, it was not as impersonal as the first one:
"Fatal Vacation | Sharmin,7, is pulled out of the wreckage. She and her twin, Shirin, died in each other's arms. Their parents, Javed and Sabiya were killed too"
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes it takes a few more.
To be precise: 28 words, in this case.
Actually, there were more: as many as 346 gut-wrenching ones
On their first ever vacation, all that the mirror-image twins could think about was what they would do in Mumbai, pose for pictures in identical frocks, take the ferry to Elephanta... They went to sleep hugging each other. They died that way...
Their parents — schoolteachers Sayed Javed Alam, 35, and Sabiya, 30 — had saved for years the hard way to give the twins a week of happiness. They, too, died...
The girls lay on a crumpled berth, holding each other tight, one's head buried in the other's chest. Shirin and Sharmin wore identical frocks, in green and yellow. They seemed asleep, but for the blood that had caked on their faces.
I am glad (No, that's not correct) Thank God. I am grateful. Yes, I am grateful there is no published picture of that. But they did end up separately, as pictures, on the front pages of two of Delhi's largest newspapers.
The jawans had to pry the girls' arms loose to remove their bodies...
On Friday morning, even hardened CRPF men broke down...
And then worked through the night to extricate the dead bodies and look for the trapped, possible survivors.
They have chosen to get used to violence. So that we can lead less horrible lives.
But they -- as we are forever reminded -- are mere combatants...