17 June, 2021

Ten Deaths For Free

The situation in Assam got out of hand 25 years back. Will it again?

Illustration by Sorit
Ten Deaths For Free
I was in the middle of an editorial meeting in Delhi when the bombs went off in Guwahati last week. It looked bad, but something about the initial agency reports told me this one was bigger. And worse.

The cellphone lines were jammed for half an hour before I reached my father. And for those agonising minutes, my nerves were torn apart. I knew the bend around the Ganeshguri flyover where the worst blast took place. I still drive around it ten times a day when I am back home. Over the years, it's become dusty, chaotic and unbearably crowded. Now, the blood, traffic fumes and smoke at Ganeshguri were being broadcast live to the world. My family, touch wood, was safe, but it was unbearable. And infuriating.

Ten years back, in the pit of another newsroom, a now-famous TV anchor had laughed me off when I fought to get a mention for the ten people dead in a remote part of Assam in a similar blast. "Ten deaths in your part of the world equals the death of one person from here, as far as news is concerned," he had said. "It's unfortunate but...

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