Keralites embraced her through a single frame. She is A Shajila, a photographer who continued to do her duty even when all her colleagues were beaten up and her own body was in pain. She was not crying. It was the anger of a woman who couldn’t react even when she was brutally attacked. She hid her face on the viewfinder so that no one notices her tears.
It was at this moment that Shajila’s face was captured by Mathrubhumi photographer MP Unnikrishnan’s camera. The whole people in Kerala took the photo in their hearts. It became Facebook posts, status and profile pictures. She became a symbol of fight. What I saw in her eyes wasn’t tears, said Unnikrishnan about that moment.
“I was not afraid that something would happen to me. I was scared if the camera will be destroyed. It is worth Rs 8 lakh,” said Shajila.
“We had gone to BJP protest venue near secretariat to take the response of N Sivarajan in connection with women entry to Sabarimala. I was alone for Kairali People. Journalists including me waited there knowing that BJP state general secretary M T Ramesh would arrive. When we were returning after taking his response, a march led by Aswathy Jwala reached there and it was violent. Myself and Mathrubhumi News cameraman Biju went to the venue when attackers were moving against News 18 OB van technician. We were capturing the visuals of attack. Amidst this, the attackers turned against us. They screamed that they will destroy the camera if we continue to take visuals. They twisted Biju’s hand when he tried to escape and destroyed the camera.
They also screamed at me when I was shooting the visuals of attack. They destroyed the flexes put in front of statue near Secretariat. I switched off the camera as I was scared they would destroy my equipment.
They attacked Deccan Chronicle cameraman and destroyed the camera. Media One cameraman who was shooting this also faced flak. Then they turned on me when I captured those visuals. They tried to take my camera and when they failed they pushed me towards the floor. I suffered a sprain on my neck. They destroyed the mic"-Shajila said.
Shajila left for reporting at 9.30 am. She continued her work till noon despite being attacked. She couldn’t move her neck by evening. She has been working with Kairali channel for the last 12 years. She is presently in People channel for 5 years. Before that, she was a DTP operator in Kairali.
Shajila is a native of Petta in Thiruvananthapuram. She said that she will do her duty in future too. Her words showed that the attack hasn’t affected her determination.