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Book on war reporting launched in UK

Bullets and Bylines

London : A book on reporting from the frontlines of some of the most dangerous places in the world written by a veteran Indian journalist has been launched in the UK.

‘Bullets and Bylines from the Frontlines of Kabul, Delhi, Damascus and Beyond’ written by Shyam Bhatia, a former Middle East correspondent and diplomatic editor of ‘The Observer’ was launched by Indian High Commissioner to the UK Navtej Sarna.

“When I read the book I found Shyam Bhatia had wanted to join the Indian Foreign Service as a schoolboy…In many ways, the two careers of diplomacy and foreign correspondents run very parallel and call for the same sort of talent…the only difference is we tell our story in a way that nobody else is supposed to read, they tell their story where everybody is supposed to read it,” Sarna said at a launch event for the book at Nehru Centre in London yesterday.

“My new book is not a memoir but each of the 15 chapters form a short story, each true,” he said.

The book includes an eyewitness experience of a mini massacre on the Kabul to Kandahar highway, followed by detention, torture and daily threats of execution by the mujahidin.

He relives a number of such intimate stories in the quest of what he describes as the “perfect headline”.

Bhatia was based in the Middle East from 1977 to 1981 and again from 1987 to 1997. One of his ground breaking stories about the plight of the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq won him the International Reporter of the Year prize in the British Press awards.

The prize followed earlier commendations for his reports from Lebanon, Sudan and Palestine and he also went on to author several books on the Middle East, India and Pakistan.

His political biography of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, entitled ‘Goodbye Shahzadi’ (Goodbye Princess), was a No. 1 bestseller in India.

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