For me, 2007 had been a year of learning the nuances of press photography. One of the things with working in a daily newspaper is getting the images of people making the news, especially at the moment they make news!
And if the story revolves around global terrorism, then you can expect a horde of journalists there. This was during July 2007 and I was then working at Bangalore Mirror. A terrorist attack had taken place at Glasgow airport, with the alleged bomber being dead, his brother and cousin who were continents apart were suspects now. Doctor Haneef, the cousin of the ‘Glasgow Bomber’ was detained in Australia. Firdous, the wife of Dr. Haneef and their newly born child were in Bangalore city. Also in the city were Haneef’s mother and brother. And that led to world media’s attention to Bangalore city for nearly a month. Haneef’s mother and brother were not interacting with the media. It was his wife who became a regular spokesperson during the entire ordeal.
Most of us spent those months camping on the street where Firdous lived. Every time a development took place in Haneef’s case in Australia, Firdous was immediately asked to give a response to the media. This led to a series of impromptu press conferences arranged at the gate of her parental bungalow in Bangalore.
All the newspapers, TV channels and news agencies needed the visuals of this family. They were after all ‘the people in news’ then. One had to literally fight with one another to get a suitable vantage point to capture the visuals. I sometimes took up a sniper like position to experiment and get a different image, rather than a monotonous close-up portrait. But, you can’t have this luxury all the time:-)
Fast forward to 29th July 2007
All charges against Dr Haneef were dropped and he was returning home a free man. There were media persons everywhere. At airports, in the same aircraft as his, on the roads, outside his in-laws’ home and, also inside their home. I was one among the countless photographers stationed inside their home trying to document in images the frenzied moments. The truth was that media persons outnumbered the relatives inside the house:-). Here are a series of news photographs made by me (we were there till 2 a.m in the morning) as and when he arrived home that late evening.
Seen in this photograph is Firdous Arshiya, wife of Dr Haneef dressed up to welcome her husband. Dr Mohammed Haneef after being freed from all charges related to Glasgow Terror blasts was returning from Australia with his cousin Imran and was to arrive at his Father-in-Law’s home at BTM Layout in Bangalore late night on Sunday, 29th July 2007.
Doctor Haneef stepping out of the car amidst media frenzy at his Father-in-law’s home.
Doctor Haneef being welcomed with flowers amidst media frenzy, as he arrives at his Father-in-law’s home.
Doctor Haneef managing to step inside his Father-in-law’s home amidst scenes of media frenzy.
Irony with this assignment was that, my newspaper was a compact/tabloid. And the deadline for the pages to be sent for the printing press was 10:00 p.m. Doctor Haneef arrived well past 10.. So these images remain unpublished…..