Last Wednesday, two sisters were found hanging from a mango tree after they had been gang-raped and strangled in a field near their home in Uttar Pradesh, India. The news sent shockwaves throughout the country and the world, and highlighted India’s ongoing sexual violence problem. Local photographer Nand Kishor Patak documented a disturbing scene where the girls’ bodies were found. Below, he outlines why this kind of journalism — however disturbing — is very important.
I have covered many tough issues before, but not like this particular incident. It is so gruesome. The village where this happened is like my village too, my father lives there and I live about seven miles away. Many of the people in the village know me, and when the bodies were found, my brother — who also lives in that village — called me on my cell and when I got there the villagers took me to the spot.
I finally reached the tree and saw the women and men with wooden sticks in the area where the bodies of the girls were hanging. The scene was horrible, I felt shattered — I was in a kind of shock: how anyone can do this? The villagers were very, very angry, too — and there were arguments with police officers. Locals were not allowing officials to take the bodies.
Many believed that the police had not done anything to prevent this. Locals were saying that until the culprits were caught they were not allowing anybody to touch the bodies of these girls. It was a heated scene. Though this incident is deeply shocking, as a photographer I felt it was my duty to highlight this brutality to the media, and to people. I have to stand against this injustice and sexual violence.
Nand Kishor Patak is a photographer and journalist based in Uttar Pradesh, India.
As told to LightBox Reporter/Producer Richard Conway. Follow him on twitter @RichardJConway.
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