The journalism fraternity in India has been shocked by the killing of an acclaimed photojournalist and PulitzerPrize winner Danish Siddique in Afghanistan.
The 40-year-old journalist was killed during a night crossfire between the Afghan special forces and Taliban attackers on Thursday. Siddiqui was reportedly in the main market of Spin Boldak district embedded with security when he was caught in the clash. The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist was covering the situation in Kandahar for a few days.
Early on Friday, he had reported that while reporting on the clash he had been wounded in the arm by shrapnel. He was treated and had been recovering when Taliban fighters retreated from the fighting in Spin Boldak.
His death exemplifies the situation of the media in the east which is much worse, especially in Asia. Many journalists are imprisoned or killed. Some murder cases also end in impunity. Many journalists put their lives at risk for reporting stories while finding the ground reality. But, the media has been painted in a negative light by some tyrannical governments.
Siddiqui was a largely self-taught photographer who mostly documented wars, riots and human suffering. He headed the India multimedia team at Reuters. He has been responsible for taking some of the most defining photographs of human struggle and conflict in the last decade.
He was a native of New Delhi based in Mumbai, graduated with a degree in Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He also had a degree in Mass Communication from the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at the same institute.
Siddiqui had begun his career as a television correspondent and later made a switch to photojournalism. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Feature Photography for documenting the Rohingya Refugee Crisis in 2018 along with his colleague Adnan Abibi and became the first Indian to receive the prestigious award.
Siddiqui took images that brought to light the extent of Muslim suffering in the February 2020 communal violence in Delhi and the sheer weight of deaths in the second wave of COVID-19 in India.
Danish Siddiqui had shared a string of tweets where the Afghan special forces are engaged heavily with the Taliban through photos and videos.
Afghanistan President, Ashraf Ghani, in a condolence message, said that his government was committed to upholding freedom of expression. “I am deeply saddened with the shocking reports that Reuters Photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering the Taliban atrocities in Kandahar,” he said.
Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Farid Mamundzay also took to Twitter to express his condolences.
The Ministry of External Affairs has said that Rudrendra Tandon, Indian Ambassador in Kabul, was in contact with the Afghan authorities. “We are keeping his family informed of the developments,” said its official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.
The condolences poured in from all over the country including Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur, Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.