The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its affiliates and
partners in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), are deeply grieved
at the death on June 15 of photo-journalist Tarun Sehrawat, after he contracted
multiple infections on assignment in the Abujmarh region of India’s
Sehrawat was on assignment with the weekly news and current affairs
magazine Tehelka and with his
colleague, reporter Tusha Mittal, spent a week early in May in the thickly
forested area, believed to be among the main operational bases of the Maoist
insurgency that has been active in parts of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring
states in recent years.
Their account of life in an area that remains for the most part beyond
the media gaze was published in the print edition of the magazine dated May
Both Sehrawat and Mittal came down with severe infections and fevers at
about the same time. Mittal recovered after two weeks under intensive care but
Sehrawat was hit by a combination of jaundice, typhoid and malaria, and had
slipped into a coma. He regained consciousness early in June, but suffered a severe
cerebral haemorrhage on June 10. He died on June 15 aged 22, the cause of death
identified as cerebral malaria.
portfolio of pictures from his final assignment in Abujmarh can be viewed here.
In mourning the loss
of a dedicated young professional, the IFJ urges the news industry to pay heed
to the imperatives of care and preparation, when assigning reporters to areas
of potential safety risk and health hazard.
“We urge renewed
attention to the code evolved by the International News Safety Institute and widely endorsed by news
Titled “Surviving the
Story”, the code observes by way of preface, that the “preservation of life and
safety is paramount”.
freelancers equally should be made aware”, it goes on, “that unwarranted risks
in pursuit of a story are unacceptable and strongly discouraged. News
organisations are urged to consider safety first, before competitive advantage,
for journalists in hostile environments.”
The safety code requires
that “assignments to war and other danger zones must be voluntary and only
involve experienced news gatherers and those under their direct supervision.”
responsible under the code, for providing “efficient safety equipment and
medical and health safeguards appropriate to the threat to all staff and
freelancers assigned to hazardous locations”.
“We appreciate that
Tarun Sehrawat and his colleague volunteered for this assignment and that the Tehelka team took all decisions in good
faith and the belief that an important public interest was served in getting
the story out of a region that few media persons venture into”, said the IFJ
“We urge that in
future, all such decisions be made after due deliberation over the risks and
the consequences involved”.
further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950
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