Many, many decades ago, while riding my motorbike as a teenager, I crashed into a car and was badly injured. At least the blood all over made others feel I was terribly hurt and the ones in the car, who were actually mechanics and were testing the brakes of the car they had just repaired, took me to the nearest hospital.
The lady doctor took one look at me, and cried out, “We can’t do anything!”
I remember looking at her through all the blood and asking, “Don’t you have children?”
“Yes, I do!” she whispered.
“Then think of me as one of them and please stop the bleeding!”
Well, the good doctor, and the nurses did do that, and later I asked her why she had refused to do anything at first. I saw her looking at the rough mechanics and I understood what she was leaving unsaid, “I looked at the men who had brought you in,” she said in silence, “and felt if I did not save you, they would thrash me!”
She obviously had heard about the beating up of doctors. But, in all probability, I could have lost a lot of blood and maybe my life, if treatment had not been given.
This morning as I read that the Manipur police had booked four journalists belonging to the Editors Guild, for going on a fact-finding mission to the riot prone area, and reporting what they saw, I thought of that accident and the silent response of that good lady doctor.
Do remember that she was a well-qualified doctor, was working in a fully equipped hospital, and yet when she had to save a life, was afraid to do her duty. And soon, journalists who have learnt to sniff out news, and search for the truth, whose job is to report to you and me, what really is happening all over the country, will stop doing so.
I remember a few years ago, in my daily column for Dubai's Khaleej Times I had called Hezbollah, terrorists, and there was a hue and cry from readers and the editor even threatened to stop my column. I stopped delving into the truth for some time, and then one day realised that whether the paper stopped my column or not, my job was to tell the truth to my readers and I continued to do so.
But for a few weeks they did manage to silence me, and like the scared doctor, thousands of journalists all over the country will react the same way after this arrest.
As a people, we need to understand that the press needs bodyguards, not policemen or the secret service or black cats, but you the people.
That doctor finally saved my life, and journalists who are allowed their freedom to write, will most probably save both yours and the life of our country..!
Robert Clements is a newspaper columnist and author. He blogs at www.bobsbanter.com and can be reached at [email protected]