Journey to Piparia
"In January 1984, fourteen children of the Yadav caste who had crossed the
Ganga to collect fodder were kidnapped and murdered by fifty men of a criminal gang belonging to the Dhanuk caste. Three boys managed to hide and saw their friends being cut to pieces and thrown into the river.'
"Incensed by the tragedy, and the non-deliverance of justice, I got my editor's permission to reconstruct the events. The journey to Piparia was not easy. There was no road to speak of, let alone any means of transport. Worse still, the area was infested with criminals. I had to walk for fifteen hours, alone, as no one, not even a photographer, wanted to accompany me. Fortunately, I had my own camera. When I reached the village, I interviewed a dozen youth and adults. My story was run in three parts. The first two parts focused on the events themselves and on the treatment of Dalits in the Diara region.'
"The third part was about the murky political dealings of the region. I was scathing about those who advocated amnesty to the murderers. What was the reason for their demand? Did they consult the mothers whose beloved children were butchered? And what about the three terrified children who had witnessed the crime and were so shocked that they couldn't utter a word for seven days?'
"The pen proved mightier than the notorious nexus of administrators, politicians, criminal gangs and police. The accused were sentenced to life imprisonment, and I was honoured with the PUCL's Human Rights Award for Journalism."
(pp. 142-3, From Manimala's 'In pursuit of change' included in 'Making News, Breaking News, Her Own Way' – Ed: Latika Padgaonkar and Shubha Singh - Landmark)