"Mummy, I love you. I may be killed in this attack ... I feel no fear."
Doordarshan staffer Mormukut Sharma recorded the poignant message lying flat in a ditch, his stoic face inches away from the lens of a television camera capturing the drama around him -- bullets flying above him, making sharp hissing sounds intermittent as Naxals and policemen exchanged gunfire for nearly an hour.
Sharma, a 35-year-old lighting assistant of DD News, and journalist Dhiraj Kumar survived the gunfire after a Naxal ambush on a police convoy in Chattisgarh's Dantewada district on Tuesday.
But their colleague, cameraman Achyutanand Sahu, tragically died in the early minutes of the ambush when he was hit by a bullet while riding pillion with a policeman on a motorcycle.
The three-member crew from New Delhi was in the state for coverage of next month's Assembly polls and had joined the police party travelling on eight motorcycles through a desolate and forested area on their way to Nilawaya village, about 450 kilometres from the state capital, Raipur.
"There is a terror attack. We are in Dantewada for election coverage. While on the way, accompanied by the army (sic), we were suddenly ambushed by Naxals," Sharma says in the
message to his mother while lying on the ground.
Amidst the sound of gunfire, he is heard saying, "we are surrounded from all sides. It is difficult to survive in this situation. There are six to seven jawans."
In the message, he also says, "Mummy, If I survive, I will be thankful. Mummy, I love you. I may be killed in this attack. The situation is not good. Don't know why, despite staring at death, I feel no fear."
The recording was posted by Doordarshan on Twitter.
The crew was planning to interview villagers in Nilawaya where people haven't voted from the past 20 years, according to the police.
Kumar is heard saying in the video that Sahu was recording visuals at around 10 am and suddenly fell on the ground, bleeding.
They realised that there was heavy firing from the forest on the left side of the road, Kumar said, adding he dived on to the road and rolled into a ditch by the roadside. Sharma also crawled towards him.
Sahu and two policemen, Sub-Inspector Rudra Pratap Singh and Assistant Constable Manglu, were killed and two other security personnel were injured in the attack. One of the injured policemen succumbed to his injuries Wednesday.
The Naxals have called on voters to boycott the Assembly polls in the state, which has 90 seats.
The first phase of polls covering 18 constituencies of eight Naxal-affected districts Bastar, Kanker Sukma, Bijapur, Dantewada, Narayanpur, Kondagaon and Rajnandgaon will be held on November 12.
The remaining 72 constituencies will have polling on November 20. Counting of votes will be held on December 11.
(With inputs from agencies.)