UPDATE, Wednesday, May 6, 2009:
SAJAforum spoke directly to Jay Mandal at the Kolkata nursing home where he is recovering and is in good spirits, all things considered. He is lucky to be alive. His shoulder and knee are injured, but he insists that he will be in Delhi for an assignment he's had scheduled for some time now.
Listen to a 15-minute conversation Mandal had with Sree Sreenivasan of SAJAforum:
Also available as an MP3 file
[You are welcome to repost the audio or quote from anything said in the conversation]
ORIGINAL POST, Tuesday, May 5, 2009:
Photographer Jay Mandal, a frequent contributor to SAJAforum who covers events throughout the US and India (seen here with former president Bush), was beaten up while covering an election gathering in West Bengal. From Rediff.com, where he serves as Contributing Photographer:
Bengal-born, New York-based Mandal was covering a meeting convened by the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate from Tamluk, Rajyashree Chowdhury. Nandigram is part of the Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency. The meeting was attended by BJP national spokesperson S S Ahluwalia among others.
Shortly after the meeting got underway, a group of men on motorcycles wearing Trinamool Congress headbands attacked the rally. On seeing Mandal photographing the attack, they pounced on him, snatched his cameras, smashed them and injured him badly.
More from The Telegraph, for which Mandal also works:
Freelance photographer Jay Mandal, who contributes to The Telegraph, was taking pictures of the motorcyclists flying Trinamul flags when attacked.
“Two youths walked towards the dais and jumped onto it. My flash gun alerted one of them. He came to me and gave me a big shove. I fell into a drain with my two cameras. Under the impact, one of them broke. The other was also badly damaged. I lost my glasses and without them, I am nearly blind,” said Mandal.
Mandal said he was using a Canon 1D Mark 3 and a Canon 5D camera. The cameras along with their three lenses and flash guns cost Rs 16-17 lakh.
“I dragged myself out of the drain and limped to the courtyard of a house, where I requested a lady to keep the other lenses I had. As I sat down beside a tulsi plant, the youth who had pushed me came and asked for the chips in the camera. I requested him not to take them. Then the beating started,” said Mandal.
“The youth pulled my hair and beat me up mercilessly. When I fell to the ground, he kicked me. I suffered severe bruises on my elbows, wrist, knee and thigh.”
Mandal got back his damaged cameras and lenses but the youth took the chips away.
We sincerely hope that Jay's doing better now, and will post any updates that come in. We most recently shared his shots of Shashi Tharoor on the campaign trail, and before that, shared his shots of Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan in New York. More here.
Please share your thoughts below - we'll make sure Jay sees the comments.