It all happened in a matter of seconds. Hari Kumar, a senior technician with NDTV assigned to our OB (live broadcast) van, was barely 50 metres away from me as we tried to dash towards the police cordon and other crews in Panchkula. Suddenly, he was caught by what appeared to be a group of Gurmeet Ram Rahim's followers, enraged by their chief's conviction in a rape case. The mob of around 15-20 that caught him, had seconds ago smashed the windows of the NDTV OB
van in which Hari was sitting. This was after they had already attacked two other OB vans.
At first, he thought about hiding inside the OB van. When they tried to topple it over, as they had with others, he realised he must get out. The van had a door on only one side. If that side had fallen to the ground, and they had torched the vehicle with him inside, it would have been all over for him.
They did set the van on fire eventually.
The Dera followers attacked OB vans of news channels, including NDTV's, smashing windows of the vehicles and pushing them over
'When they tried to topple the car, I realised that if they torch the car, because of only one door on the side, I would also get trapped inside. The moment I came out of the OB van, I heard shouts of "media wala hai, isko maaro
(He is from the media, hit him)."
A man with a stone hit Hari on the head and he began bleeding. Then the man tried to hit him. Hari, while continuing to run, held his hand out to stop him but became victim to others hitting him with a lathi
(stick) on his back. He was also punched a number of times by the mob.
NDTV's engineer, Hari, being attacked by followers of Gurmeet Ram Rahim
It is at this time that I saw him and started shouting "He is from NDTV!" I tried to move towards him but the security personnel didn't let me go through the barricades. Being a Punjabi, my shouts were reasonably loud enough. I asked to be allowed through, arguing, "If you can't get him, let me try". All of this happened in a matter of a few seconds. Hari was able to break away from the clutches of the mob. His shoes had come off while making the attempt. Hari was bleeding from the right side of his head. I could see it. My shouts became louder.
It is at this time that the top cop in the area, Hamid Akhtar IPS, SP Police Headquarters Panchkula, broke the police line and moved forward alone.
It was SP Hamid Akhtar who saved Hari from the mob
"At first he didn't know who I was but when I told him I was from the media, he grabbed me and pushed me towards the police line and away from the mob," said Hari.
I saw this. Mr Akhtar was visibly angry. My understanding is that the reason the mob didn't come at Mr Akhtar was because just a few minutes earlier, he had been seen at a slight distance talking with a representative of the Dera Sacha Sauda who told him that they would not resort to violence.
"If I would not have gone, they would have lynched him, or killed him, which is why I decided to jump over the police cordon and get him. In the heat of the moment, I did not understand that he is from the media, but I understood he is not from the mob and so I needed to save him."
When the OB van was set on fire, Hari lost 16,500 rupees in cash, his ATM cards and his IDs. "I am thankful the policeman came, otherwise they would have killed me," he said later.
Hari at the local hospital after being treated for head injuries
We put Hari in an ambulance but after sometime he called us to say that he had been told to leave the ambulance because there were people with more serious injuries that needed to be transported to hospital. Hari was still bleeding from the head when he exited the ambulance.
I met Mr Akhtar after things had quietened down. He was doing rounds at the spot where Hari had been attacked. He was bleeding from his left leg. He had been hit by a stone. I thanked him for what he did.
Hari joined NDTV in 1998. He is recovering.(Amitoj Singh is associate editor & anchor, NDTV 24x7)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
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