My couple of days with media
A span of about four decades is a long time to reckon with. Less than a fortnight ago, I got a call from Mr Vipin Pabbi, formerly of ‘The Indian Express, a popular that one of his friends, one Mr. Chandan Nandy of ‘The Quint’, a well known online magazine wanted to meet me. I had no idea about the purpose of the meeting but having high regards for Mr. Pabbi, I agreed. On the designated day, this jovial ‘Babu Moshay’, came to my house along with him. The discussion generally hovered around the situation in wake of the Dinanagar and then the Pathankot incidents. Both these incidents are a shame for us Indians when Pakistani terrorists in sneaked in to Punjab from across the border and shook us. The incidents, to my mind, were as serious as the Mumbai incident in which a sole Pakistani terrorist Kasab was apprehended after a nerve wrecking attack on the sovereignty of the country. But I rate Dinanagar and Pathankot incidents as more dastardly. Where in the former case, an attempt was also made to blow off a train by planting RDX on the railway line, in the Pathankot incident, direct attack was made on one of our more important of Air Force bases.
Mr. Nandy came and went back but somehow we jelled well and remained in touch. After a few days he called up again to state that he, along with his Camera team, would like to visit Punjab; to be more precise, the border areas of Pathankot to recreate the sequence of events and if I will be a game for it. My direct exposure with the media had not been much. I will admit that I could expose the Punjab drug mafia only with the help of the print as also electronic media. I have no words of appreciation, the way they have stood by me on this issue. In fact if I am alive today even after taking a serious ‘Panga’ with the top drug and political persons, the credit goes only to the media.
Thus my experience with the media had only been limited to talking to them, either individually or in a press conference. Thereafter, I got a glimpse of the activist media only after my short and limited interaction with Rahul Kanwal of Aaj Tak. I also had a very limited experience with some teams, both Indian and foreign in shooting some documentaries, but in a ‘civil ambiance’. I always envied persons like Barkha Dutt who have successfully carved a niche for themselves and have become legends. I always wanted to do stories and shoots with such like persons.
So when The Quint team asked me to come along with them to Pathankot to try retracing steps of the terrorist action, I readily agreed to be a ‘game’. The two men Quint team consisting of Mr. Nandy and his producer cum cameraman Sidharth Safaya reached Chandigarh on the designated team and we drove off to Pathankot. Enroute in the car we talked about and discussed the ‘fine’ or ‘not so fine’ points of the terrorist action. They were captured by Sidarth from the front seat. It was a new experience. I could not have ever visualized that coming from a police job, I would, one day, be doing this kind of stuff which is resented and even hated in the police circles. Indeed my life, after retirement, has made an about turn at one eighty degrees.
Reaching Pathankot late in the night, we checked into a modest hotel but there was no food for dinner. So we drove down the city to hunt for some food. We found one sleazy joint near the ‘bus adda’. The place was all broken down and ramshackle. We sat on empty wooden boxes to be served horrible dal and chappaties by a group of filthy and drunk men. Later the same night, we accompanied by a contact of mine went to the spot where driver Ikagar singh was slain by the terrorists. There was cold wing, darkness and fog all around. Perhaps we were living the night of the terrorists’ infiltration. The team shot very professionally, covering the entire route which was perhaps taken by the terrorists as also by the superintendent of police, his jeweler friend and the cook. Well past midnight we returned back to the hotel. The room I was made to stay in was perhaps initially done to serve the purpose of a honey moon suite. But it was then perhaps over used with vulgar stains all around. Early next morning we moved out again to trace the ‘step backwards’ in the day light. We visited all relevant places which figured in the sequence, met and interviewed all key players of the episode, video recording each of them. We also went to the ‘Khooni Naala, which opens into the Ujh River flowing in to Pakistan. It is one of the possible routes from which at least a module of terrorists is supposed to have sneaked in. We visited certain places along the barbed wire fencing and interacted with the BSF jawans, chatting with them only to find their low state of moral and preparedness. We also interacted and shot, on the sly, various ‘police check posts’ which were hopelessly useless.
Given this general scenario and attitude of our high and mighty ones in the state and national politics as also our high and mighty bureaucrats and security officials sitting in their ivory towers, we may, god forbid, expect more of such dastardly intrusions. Wake up; wake up high and mighty ones, who are entrusted with the job of maintaining the sovereignty of the country. Stop playing nefarious political games. The sovereignty of the country is far more important that the diplomatic games.