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Gujarat: a picture of insanity 
By Sanjeeb Mukherjee

Sahir Raza

Sahir Raza, a 15-year-old student from Delhi travelled all the way to Gujarat to capture images of insanity on his camera. An exhibition of these disturbing pictures eloquently titled ‘And They Killed Him Again’ recently on display at Delhi’s Press Club of India drew such critical acclaim that the teenager wants to take the show around the country. "The title of my exhibition is a reminder to all those people who have killed Mahatma Gandhi, the ultimate Apostle of Peace, several times after his death," says Raza who also sold a number of pictures so that he could raise money for the victims of Gujarat violence.

Charred remains of a judge’s library painstakingly built over a lifetime….a smashed clock frozen at 7.10 p.m….a half burnt National Citizen Certificate given to a proud old man….a child in the arms of his dead mother …these are some of the images captured through the lens of a 15-year-old schoolboy who visited Gujarat recently.

Sahir Raza a Class X student of Delhi’s Springdales Public School, went to Gujarat armed just with a camera and a serious mission---to click some of the most vivid and expressive pictures of the violence in the state.

In consonance with the title, the first picture of a smashed spinning wheel speaks a thousand words.



"I plan to take my exhibition to various parts of the country to bring people closer to the tragedy and also raise funds for the affected. I am angry and confused at why such things happen. The atmosphere in my family is such that I have always been told to keep the interests of other people before my own," says Raza



I plan to take my exhibition to various parts of the country to bring people closer to the tragedy and also raise funds for the affected. I am angry and confused at why such things happen. The atmosphere in my family is such that I have always been told to keep the interests of other people before my own," says Raza whose father is a scientist with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and his mother is a well-known social worker Shabnam Hashmi, niece of slain activist Safdar Hashmi.

Interestingly, this is not his first exhibition. It is his third. The first was on the deteriorating environment in the cities and the second was on the polluted River Yamuna.

Moving pictures
"I don’t do random photography. I like to do thematic work. Pictures that give a message or tell a story. There has always to be a good reason for me to take a picture. Something should really move me," says Raza.who uses a Nikon FE camera.

The young boy has not taken any formal training in photography. Though he remembers that even as a kid he would love to wield a camera and took a number of pictures of his family and friends. As he got into his teens he graduated to more serious stuff.

But, he says, " I don’t want to take up photography as a profession. I want it to remain just a hobby. Once I make a career of it I fear I will lose all my creativity. I just want to go on clicking from my heart."

Raza says he chose Gujarat as the topic of his third exhibition because he was deeply saddened by the events there. He visited the state in the aftermath of the riots along with his parents to meet relatives and some friends. That’s when the idea of an exhibition struck him.

" The camera is my way of communicating with the world. I wanted to bring the reality through my pictures," says Raza who took the help of a Christian priest, Father Cedric Parkash to take him to the worst affected areas.

And what he saw was devastation and death. " Whether they are Hindus or Muslims, the Gujaratis want these senseless killings to end. They want to get along with their normal lives. The situation is really bad in camps where people are living like animals," opines Raza whose photographs tell the tale of devastation and the ugly dance of death.

There are pictures of little children wailing in dead arms, the fear of death writ large on faces, burnt houses, charred remains of valuables and people sleeping next to newly dug graves.

"Most of these pictures are intuitive. I was not guided by anyone that’s why perhaps they speak more than words," says Raza who now dreams of raising enough funds by the sale of these pictures to " mitigate the sufferings of the people of Gujarat." (the-south-asian.com)
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