Danish Siddiqui, the man who dared to capture reality

The world will remember him through his photographs

Politics

July 16, 2021

/ By / New Delhi

Danish Siddiqui, the man who dared to capture reality

Danish Siddiqui in Mosul, Iraq in 2017 (Photo: Danish Siddiqui)

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Reuters India chief photographer Danish Siddiqui was killed in Afghanistan while covering clashes in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar. Siddiqui had been covering the situation in Kandahar over the last few days.

A roof-top shot of the burning pyres during a mass cremation of victims who perished in the catastrophic second wave of Covid-19, at the Seemapuri crematorium or the image of a Muslim man with his head in his knees in an attempt to protect himself during the Delhi riots in February 2020, Danish Siddiqui captured photographs that showcased harsh reality and the helplessness in its true form.

“While I enjoy covering news stories — from business to politics to sports – what I enjoy most is capturing the human face of a breaking story,” Siddiqui had said in an interview.

And indeed the numerous images of human faces, with emotions ranging from fear, terror, despair or grief, that Siddiqui clicked have become a repertoire of the various burning issues that he covered in his eventful career as a photojournalist that was cut short by a Taliban attack last night.

Siddiqui won Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for his photograph of an exhausted Rohingya refugee who touched the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh.

Of the image, he had said, “I wanted to show everything I could – the helplessness, the desperation, the anguish.”

Siddiqui covered many important events in Asia, West Asia and Europe, including the Hong Kong protests and living conditions of asylum seekers in Switzerland.

He never put his personal safety before his work and that allowed him to capture the rawness of events and bring the best and the worst out of humans through his images. Indeed, for the past few days, he had been doing just that in one of the most dangerous parts of the war-torn Afghanistan as Afghan military tried to hold off the rapid advance of the Taliban, even as the United States and its NATO allies rapidly pulled their own troops out of the country, with nothing but death and destruction to show for their 20 years in the country.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Farid, Mamundzay, confirmed the news on Twitter. “Deeply saddened by the sad news of the murder of a friend Danish Siddiqui in Kandahar last night. Indian journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner was with Afghan security forces when they were attacked by terrorists,” his tweet read.

An inspiration to journalists all over the world has perished in the only way he was seen all through his professional life. In his boots and face to face with mortal danger. But the rich body of his work will keep him alive for a long time to come. Rest in peace, Danish.

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