“I rolled into a ditch & heard bullets spraying around us for 45 mins,” Journalist Dhiraj Kumar, who survived Maoist attack

Dantewada attack

The attack took place near Nilawaya village, around 450 km from Raipur. Over half-a-dozen districts, including Dantewada, are affected by Left-wing extremism in the state

The Hush Post| 8:40 am| three-minute-read

Dhiraj Kumar, the journalist of national broadcaster Doordarshan, who survived a Maoist attack in Dantewada district of Chattisgarh on Tuesday, said the moment there was spraying of bullets my motorcycle lost control and I rolled myself into a ditch around a huge tree. “We were camouflaged by the foliage of the tree from all sides and thus got saved,” Kumar said.

He said that the sound of bullets and grenades continued for the next 45 minutes. Kumar was fortunate to survive the attack. However, his cameraperson 30-year-old Achyutanand Sahu was killed. The trio Kumar, Sahu and lighting assistant Mormukut Sharma had recently arrived in Chhattisgarh for the coverage of the next month’s assembly elections.

The attack took place near Nilawaya village, around 450 km from Raipur. Over half-a-dozen districts, including Dantewada, are affected by Left-wing extremism in the state.

“We were in Dantewada for the last two days. We were informed that a polling station had been set up in Nilawaya where people haven’t voted from the past 20 years following which we decided to go there on Tuesday,” Dhiraj Kumar said.

Kumar, who is working with Doordarshan since 2009, said they were heading to the village along with police personnel on around eight motorcycles. Also, the Doordarshan team was told that the Maoists do not attack media. Instead they have always been welcoming of media.

“Ahead of Nilawaya at about 10 am, Achyutanand Sahu was recording visuals on the road. Meanwhile, police personnel removed a Maoist poster put up on a tree branch. Sahu, who was busy recording it, suddenly fell to the ground,” he said.

Fortunately, I fell and rolled in a ditch by the road. My lighting assistant Mormukut Sharma also crawled towards me

Kumar initially thought Sahu had developed some health-related issue, but then moments later he realised that his colleague was bleeding. “Suddenly, heavy firing started from the forest on the left side of the road,” the 37-year-old said.

A native of Bihar’s Begusarai district, Kumar said their motorcycle lost balance. “Fortunately, I fell and rolled in a ditch by the road. My lighting assistant Mormukut Sharma also crawled towards me,” he said.

“For the next 45 minutes, I just heard sounds of bullets and grenades. There were about 200 Maoists. Some grenades fell near us, but thank God they did not explode,” he said.

“Neither do we have social security, nor any insurance. Who will look after our families if we die?”

“We were lucky that Dantewada Superintendent of Police Abhishek Pallav along with reinforcement reached there in a short span of time and pushed Maoists deep into the forest,” he said.

“Neither do we have social security, nor any insurance. Who will look after our families if we die? All the reporters (of Doordarshan) who have been deputed in poll-bound states from Delhi have decided to return to the national capital,” he said. Kumar and Sharma will reach Raipur today.

Achyutanand Sahu and two policemen, Sub-Inspector Rudra Pratap Singh and Assistant Constable Manglu, were killed and two other security personnel injured when Maoists attacked them near Nilawaya under Aranpur police station limits.

The Maoists have called upon voters to boycott the Assembly polls in the state, which has 90 seats. The first phase of polls covering 18 constituencies of eight Maoist-affected districts Bastar, Kanker Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon will be held on November 12.

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