“I cannot claim that I knew him well. We exchanged cursory smiles people exchange in office. But, ever since his untimely and unfortunate death on an assignment, Express photographer Ravi Kanojia has been in and out of my mind.
To call it a personal loss would be far from truth, but I have found myself reflecting on another aspect of this tragedy. Ravi did not risk his life for some abstract idea like the ‘nation’, like soldiers do, or ‘revolution’, like rebels do. He risked his life for you, the reader. He climbed atop that train to ensure that you get to see a better picture as you turn the pages of a newspaper in your living rooms or plush offices, sipping a cup of coffee.
But, while emotions come pouring forth on social media over the deaths of soldiers or activists, there was little response to the loss of this national award-winning photojournalist. A collection of his photographs did the rounds among a motley group of journalists as social media remained abuzz with Game Of Thrones memes and the usual war of words between Bhakts and liberals.
I could not help reflecting on the fact that people who every now and then pass blanket judgements on media, call them presstitutes every time their stand doesn’t match their own and abuse journalists on Twitter and Facebook, have so little to talk about Ravi’s death on duty.
When I took this up with some friends, I was told that instances of yellow journalism and paid news had tainted journalism. What about AFSPA crimes then? That doesn’t stop us from honouring martyrs.
Before I am tagged “anti-national” and abused, I wish to make clear that I have nothing against honouring dead soldiers. All I want to say is that Ravi died doing exactly what a soldier does—his duty. He was armed with a camera instead of a gun, but he too was working for you, in his own way. Why then are you, the reader, unmoved by his demise?
Everyday, thousands of people like Ravi scourge cities, villages and metros. Some are armed with cameras, some with pens. They hunt for stories to tell you, stories that need to be unearthed, stories that change lives. And they do this knowing that they won’t be loved for it. Why then, reader, are you not interested in the story of this shutterbug who told you so many stories?
Journalism is not something that is thrust on you. Neither is it something that lures you with a fat paycheque. It is a way of life one chooses. And making choices requires courage. Ravi had the courage to make that choice, he had the courage to risk his life for it and that deserves respect.
RIP Ravi Kanojia, you make us proud!”
This article has been posted on Facebook by Saikat Bose, who works with The Indian Express.