Braving tear gas and sword-wielding Sikh protesters, AP’s visual journalists in New Delhi captured dramatic live video and stunning images of angry and defiant farmers storming the iconic Red Fort as India celebrated its Republic Day. Farmers have been protesting for months over new agriculture laws, and AP reacted quickly when a group of farmers on tractors deviated from an orderly parade, breaking through barricades to storm the city’s emblematic 17th century landmark.
As disorder and chaos erupted in the city, photographer Manish Swarup and video journalist Shonal Ganguly quickly filed their Republic Day coverage, then joined senior video journalist Rishi Lekhi, video journalist Rishabh Jain and photographer Altaf Qadri to cover the fast-developing action at multiple locations. Stringers Dinesh Joshi and Supreet Sapkal also contributed to the photo coverage. The team had to be nimble on its feet, sending reports for the text story as they followed the raucous crowd making its way to the Red Fort.
Amid aggressive threats by protesters, they recorded the dramatic breach of the fort, a profoundly symbolic challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government. AP was live with video at key points and captured the extraordinary turn of events as protesters scaled the walls and hoisted a Sikh religious flag from the fort ramparts. In a sudden escalation, Ganguly was roughed up by an unruly mob, his camera cards snatched as outnumbered police watched. With the situation spiraling out of control the team was pulled out to ensure their safety.
Despite the enormous challenges, AP had better competitive coverage thanks to preparation, smart coordination and decision making on the fly. We offered outstanding visuals, including faster video edits to our customers, and updates showing police trying to clear protesters from the fort.