Many of my assignments were extremely dangerous. War reporting from the frontlines in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka was life-threatening. Tank fire gouged the sandy ground 20 feet away from where I was, missing me by seconds. Powered by my instincts, I had run and so survived the battle to tell the tale. On other occasions, mortar and grenades fell around me within 100 meters. In Kabul, I was chased and my crew beaten by Taliban cadres who had banned television and women from working; punishing us publicly for daring to flout their laws. For the Taliban, America was enemy and our CNN logos were dead giveaway. In their eyes, my Indian passport made me a RAW agent. All the odds were stacked against me in just doing my job. Doing it in the midst of a hot, live war made it borderline crazy. But these were risks I knew I had to take—how else could you report war for television?
But life as a print journalist was no less dangerous when I was in Sri Lanka, reporting for Sunday, India Today and Time magazine. Going into LTTE-controlled areas meant tiptoeing across land-mined no-man’s land. One false step, and you could be either dead or maimed. Once I had to get out of my hired taxi and wave a white cloth desperately as aerial-strafing, low flying helicopters appeared in Batticaloa. Those days, Jaffna was crawling with Tamil guerrillas of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, ideologies—or lack thereof. I was waylaid by two gun-toting teenagers who wanted to steal my car. I got out, stood to my full height and shouted down at them, drumming up not just courage but sheer will to dominate. Any sign of weakness and I knew I they would rob, not just the car, but my life. It turned out they belonged to a group called ENDLF. Another time, my car was waylaid by two hysterical guerrillas with AK 47s who pulled out my driver by the scruff of his neck. They were trying to hijack my car. I leapt out from the backseat and demanded to know what they were trying to do. I knew something was wrong. It turned out their leader had managed to shoot himself in the leg and they needed to take him urgently to a surgeon. They belonged to group called EPRLF. I calmed the two guerrillas, told them to bring their leader and said I would take them all in my car to the nearby camp hospital set up the Indian soldiers. I did that and eventually drove away with their gratitude and, more importantly, the car and my life intact, though the driver had a tough time cleaning the blood-stains.
But it’s not only war zones that are treacherous. When I exposed political corruption in Tamil Nadu, local groups threatened to throw acid on my face and I had to live under police protection in Chennai. Following Bal Thackeray’s threats after my interview was published in Time, I lived under police protection in Delhi. When I deposed before the Sri Krishna Commission that inquired into Mumbai riots, Justice Sri Krishna ordered police protection for me in Mumbai. I have reported riots, crime, murder, war. I have been in the loneliest of places in the darkest of times. But I have never ever faced sexual aggression. How does one interpret this? That the deadliest war zones were safer for women journalists than are moving buses, isolated warehouses and mean streets of India today for young women? I have done investigative stories on gang rape and infant rape 25 years ago. The underlying factors and causes still remain unaddressed. Such societal neglect is as horrifying as the continuing incidents.
A slightly edited, shorter version of this appeared in print
Anita Pratap is a journalist and author
Utterly insensitive and selfish of the feminist gender, to want utmost protection for themselves ( that too at the expense of ignoring the local males who are victims of the violence on a day to ay basis )
These feminist journalists need a course on sensitising to the suffering of males, especially in war-torn areas
"I have done investigative stories on gang rape and infant rape 25 years ago. The underlying factors and causes still remain unaddressed."
In that case instead of the article you wrote, revisiting and reminding the reader of today of your investigations findings 25 years ago and factors/causes that remain unaddressed would have been a better bet.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT