Photojournalist pays with life to capture live gun battle

May 11th, 2008 - 4:08 pm ICT by admin  

By Binoo Joshi
Samba (Jammu and Kashmir), May 11 (IANS) Photojournalist Ashok Sodhi ran ahead of his colleagues and ignored police warnings as he ventured forth to capture pictures of the house where militants were holed up, firing at security forces Sunday morning. Sodhi died in the exchange of fire. “He ignored all warnings and stood right in front of the house from where the hail of bullets was coming,” recalled Faheem Tak, a reporter with a local TV channel.

Sodhi had reached the site in Samba sector, 45 km from Jammu, with fellow photo journalists as the plains witnessed their first militant attack after a gap of six years.

The photographer lifted his camera to take a photo, and then came a bullet piercing his forehead.

“That was all,” said one of his colleagues who was behind him, describing the death of the 45-year-old photo journalist who worked with Daily Excelsior, a local English daily.

A shower of bullets followed. His colleagues made frantic attempts to reach him, but they were futile as the rain of bullets continued.

It was Tak who finally managed to edge toward Sodhi. He lifted him, removed his camera from his shoulder and placed him in a bullet proof vehicle with the help of policemen.

But Sodhi was declared “brought dead” soon after he was rushed to the Government Medical College Hospital, Jammu.

Early Sunday morning, when he got to know about the gunfight, Sodhi insisted on reaching the spot. “I want to shoot my pictures on my own,” one of his collegaues recalled him as saying.

Sodhi was among the four people killed when militants struck in Jammu’s Samba sector early morning. An intense gun battle ensued between the militants and the security forces in the area.

According to the police, militants entered the house of Hoshiar Singh in Kali Mandi in Samba and opened fire, killing him and his wife Shashi Bala. Their daughter Bindu and Singh’s mother-in-law were injured in the shootout.

Police and army units, alerted by villagers, ran towards the area and engaged the militants in a gun battle, in which Sodhi and a soldier died. Two others, including a major, are said to be injured.

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