Over the years, there have been photographs which have depicted the gravity of the situation in our country, be it relief or crisis. Such pictures leave a lasting impact on everyone. That’s the power of photographs. It is rightly said, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ … And many are worth much more.

Here are 27 such powerful photos that have been clicked in past years:

1. The man in this iconic photograph, Qutubuddin Ansari, a tailor , pleads for mercy during the Godhra riots in Gujarat, circa 2002.


2. Martyr Udham Singh fearlessly walks out of Caxton Hall after his arrest for assassinating Michael O’Dwyer (the man responsible for Jallianwala Bagh Massacre) in London, 1940.

Jallianwala Bagh Massacre is one of the worst incidents in Indian history. British officer Gen. Dyer ordered his troops to open fire on thousands of innocent Indians, resulting in countless deaths. A horrendous act that was endorsed by Michael O’Dwyer, the then Governor of Punjab.

Shaheed Udham Singh Kamboj

3. A world record breaking 1.5 crore people joined the funeral procession of ex-Tamil Nadu Chief Minister CN Annadurai in 1969.

He died of cancer at the age of 60.


4. The 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid by Hindu activists who believed it was a place where Lord Ram had spent his infant years.

The demolition sparked communal riots which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in many cities across the country. Rally organisers had promised that there will be no harm done to the structure.


5. Pakistan army surrenders to India-Bangladesh allied forces and Bangladesh gained its independence.

The 1971 war ended with the Pakistani forces surrendering to India.


6. The devastating flood in Uttarakhand that resulted in almost 6,000 deaths rages at the famous Shivji statue in 2013.


7. The moment India awakened to freedom.

Pandit Nehru: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”


8. The ill-effects of the partition as millions were left homeless and forced to relocate.

More than 14.5 million people were uprooted and the results were horrible: deaths, starvation, epidemics, famine and what not.


More photos of the partition can be viewed here . (Discretion is advised)

9. Army personnel firing shots at the Golden Temple, Amritsar during Operation Blue Star, June, 1984.

A few months later, Indira Gandhi was assassinated for ordering the operation.


10. The Bhopal gas tragedy was a noose around the necks of all the inhabitants of the area during the gas tragedy, circa December, 1984.

Some tragedies go beyond just harming man. The night of 3rd December, 1984, marked a dark day in Indian history as over 5,00,000 people and other species were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals.


11. A youth stands tall during the ‘Nirbhaya Gang Rape’ protests in Delhi amidst laathi charge and water cannoning in December 2012.

The hideous crime sparked a fire across the country with people from all generations standing up and protesting for death penalties for the perpetrators.


12. The magnificent Taj Hotel in Mumbai during the terror attack on 26th November, 2008.


13. A man surveys the damage after Tsunami hit India, 2004.

The disaster affected 4 countries; Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and India. The number of casualties was more than 2,30,000.


14. The walk of purpose: Gandhiji begins the Dandi March on 12th March, 1930.

Also called Salt Satyagraha, the march was a protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India. It also widened the Civil Disobedience Movement.


15. A boy is treated by doctors after being injured during the Kashmir earthquake in 2005.


16. The ruthless patriotism in the eyes of an Indian soldier at the Wagah border.

Intimidation at its best.


17. George Fernandes in shackles during emergency.

Many other ministers such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Morarji Desai and LK Advani were also arrested when Indira Gandhi declared emergency in 1975.


18. Officers paying homage to Zanjeer, who saved countless lives during the 1993 terror attack by detecting more than 3,329 kgs of RDX, 600 detonators, 249 grenades and 6406 rounds of ammunition.

Zanjeer died on 12th Nov, 2000, due to bone cancer and was buried with full honours.


19. The 2013 rocket launch that made Mangalyaan a reality as India entered Mars’ orbit on the 1st attempt.

The Mangalyaan mission cost India only 11% of what it cost NASA to enter Mars. And what’s more, we did it on the first attempt.


20. A little girl offers Anna Hazare some lemon water to break his fast-unto-death after 97 hours as the government agreed to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in April, 2011.

A large gathering had come to witness this monumental event as the 72-year-old finally broke his fast when the government promised it would introduce a more stringent anti-graft law.


21. This woman throws things into perspective as she walks along the damage caused by the Bhuj earthquake in Gujarat, 2001.

The earthquake destroyed nearly 4,00,000 homes and killed over 20,000 people.


22. Jayaprakash Narayan and the millions he inspired to give up studies for a year and join a movement to rebuild the nation, in 1974.

Known as the Bihar Movement, millions of protesters joined JP in a bid to overthrow the state government.


23. A 27-year-old Tibetan exile self-immolated during a protest in New Delhi.

Janphel Yeshi runs engulfed in flames, protesting against the visit of Chinese president Hu Jintao.


24. A kid swimming in a polluted river in India.

The kid is almost camouflaged amidst the polluted material in the water.


25. Muharram in Kashmir.

Sometimes devotion has no threshold.


26. Soldiers during the first Indo-Pak war for Kashmir during 1947-48.


27. The recapture of Tiger hill during the last Indo-Pak war at Kargil, 1999.

Army personnel hoist the tricolour atop the hill after finally recapturing it.


There have been many more instances in the history of this great nation of ours. But capturing them all on camera or film was perhaps not possible. I’m sure more such events are still to happen and more pictures are yet to be clicked. But these images certainly bring into perspective the power of a photograph and the story it can narrate.