5th July 2017:
I was caught amidst the mobs and police, I saw, the police were on the spot to maintain law and order. But somebody pelted stones at the police, they fled from the spot, the mobs torched the wine shop, some more police reached after they got updated with the news of arson.
Later, a pick-up-van drove towards TMC office building and the police lathicharged him and removed the flag. Everybody got informed about the ‘innocent driver’ in no time. Then, an outraged mob…started collecting stones to pelt at the police that were below them. The mobs had a vantage point for they were in the elevated part of 10th mile’s road and the police were below-in lower 10th mile (road.) Both roads meet at 10 mile fatak and Dambar Chowk.
The mobs started pelting stones on the law enforcers from the spaces of the building which has steep staircase, a short connection for two roads. There are many such gaps acting as shortcuts for the walkers.
The size was not funny, okay? Six polices were injured with it.
The police force along with the S. P were in 10th mile, trying to put off the fire at wine shop. The packet-food store room next to it was also severely damaged. The smokes were emitting out from the broken glasses of the window.
Four of us were the first to reach the spot after police. Journalism is getting really interesting in the hills lately. Few people I know often tell me that reporting has lots of risks and threats involved-just get another job!
Find another job? This is my passion and profession.
Today I understood what they were trying to tell me. Never been in a circumstance so hostile in my life!
Anyway, the situation suddenly got tense. The police were already provoked. The mobs were already agitated-filled with rage.
They started throwing abuses after abuses- to each other.
Then at one point of time, the police drove us away from the spot, two of my companions were manhandled-they later apologized saying they were under pressure.
However, we landed in upper 10th mile, few meters away from the fatak. Then we saw some boys running, they had stones in their hands. Seeing that, we chased the children, young and old home quickly. I wore my helmet and fastened it in my chin. They started pelting stone to the police hastily. One police was already injured, got hit by a stone in his shoulder.
Then few more got injured, the fire brigade too couldn’t reach the spot as the procession that had passed by 10th mile minutes ago had blocked the way-not letting the vehicle move.
The police and the locals came with buckets of water and set off the fire partially. The outraged crowd got multiplied in no time and stones were flying frequently towards the police. They in fact outnumbered the police.
Then they started rounds of open non lethal firings-obviously with rubber bullets.
Firing? I had never witnessed firing like that. They say, three Morcha supporters were injured and they have been referred to some other hospital somewhere down in siliguri or Sikkim.
North Bengal State Transport Corporation office was also torched around 2 pm. And some fresh sound of open firing was also heard in the Main Road. Six approximate rounds of firing were made today.
Meanwhile, the owner of the wine shop started weeping. They were shaken up, their business, their effort, the hard work and wine- all got inflamed-emitting black smokes swirling up towards the sky.
Got about 27 calls in a row.
People were worried, families kept calling, ‘Don’t go in the front’ they kept saying. But the better photograph I take, it’s better for me-jobs like that!
The fight went for quite some time, still witnessing everything in front of me-my camera still hung around my neck!
The mob-some eyes were familiar, they had covered half of their face with a scarf.
Some were bold enough not to veil their face. Then, a senior reporter of The Telegraph and I stepped few yards backward.
This becomes the most interesting chapter of my life.
The mob walked towards me as they saw the camera-lens uncovered with a cap!
‘Why were you taking our pictures?’ Said of them. The voice was filled with rage. Suddenly 7-8 boys surrounded me, asking me to delete the pictures. I somehow convinced them that I was not taking their pictures but I was capturing the Polices’ activities.
One among the mobs was not convinced.
He suddenly said, ‘What do you think of yourself? So much are happening and you are still taking sides of those polices? Those Bengalis?? You should rather be supporting us!’
I was like what? Wait? What did you say? Taking whose side? (In my mind, Dude this is my profession, my job, let me just do it, I won’t expose your faces.)
‘Camera deu, Camera deu’ (Give is your camera)
I tricked them showing old picture, ‘See these the most recent pictures I had taken’ –
‘Okay then, if you were not taking pictures of these scenes then keep your camera in your bag’ shouted somebody angrily.
I rolled my eyes and kept my camera in my bag. Then they slowly left only when CRPF’s approached from fatak.
An officer called and asked me what happened.
My respond was ‘how did you get the information so fast, it occurred just a minute ago?’
Such a nice gesture to ask if they can do something for me at that moment.
All I could do was appreciate it, on call.
Then a blasting of tear gas was heard.
The sounds were scary, thanks to my right ear that got blocked since the time I got up!
Heaven finally opened up!
It slowly started raining harder only to thaw the ongoing violence.
We escaped the spot via CST school.
By the time we reached SUMI, sounds of another round of firing were heard, main road-we guessed.
We rode till Girl’s high school, parked our scooters and walked towards Dambar Chowk.
DC was surrounded with dark smoke- with fires ignited at three different places.
We tried calling other reporters. They were scattered, somewhere, trying to be safe. We walked towards main road, it was still dark. Rain had just subsided.
Only khakis and camouflages were seen as we approached Thana Dara. Then a reporter waived at us, he was behind rows of polices. We met saying ‘it was scary!’
Guys wanted to smoke and I wanted to drink tea.
Situation improved a bit by evening.
We waited for the S.P at the police station for an official statement is always very important in reporting.
Got back to newsroom around 7pm and wrote a story in 56 minutes and filed to our respected newspapers.
Rode back home the-same-afternoon’s-war-zone around 8:30 pm.
Stay tuned for more stories.
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(All picture are taken by me, I have not watermarked them, please don’t steal them)