Pulitzer-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui killed in Afghanistan
Danish Siddiqui, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist, was killed in clashes in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan on Thursday night. Siddiqui, aged around 40, was employed with the international news agency Reuters and was based in Mumbai. He had been reporting on the Afghan Special Forces' operations against the terror outfit Taliban in that region over the past few days.
Siddiqui was killed when Afghan forces were fighting to retake the main market area of Spin Boldak and the Taliban cross-fired, Reuters reported quoting officials. A senior Afghan officer was also killed in the same incident. Siddiqui had earlier told Reuters that he had been wounded by a shrapnel while covering the clashes. He had received treatment for that injury and had been recovering.
"Danish was an outstanding journalist, a devoted husband and father, and a much-loved colleague. Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time," Reuters President Michael Friedenberg and Editor-in-Chief Alessandra Galloni said in a statement. Afghanistan's Ambassador to India, Farid Mamundzay, also condoled his death. "Deeply disturbed by the sad news of the killing of a friend, Danish Seddiqi in Kandahar last night."
Union Minister Anurag Thakur mourned Siddiqui's death. "Danish Siddiqui leaves behind an extraordinary body of work. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Photography and was embedded with the Afghan Forces in Kandahar," he tweeted. Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has urged the Indian government to facilitate bringing Siddiqui's mortal remains to India at the earliest. "My condolences to the family and friends of Danish."
The Press Club of India expressed shock at the incident. "We are at a loss of words," it tweeted this afternoon. "True journalism needs courage and Danish's body of work is a testament to that."
Siddiqui was born in 1980. He graduated in economics from the Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi. He went on to earn a degree in mass communications from the AJK Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia in 2007. He began his journalistic career as a television news correspondent and later switched to photojournalism. He had joined Reuters as an intern in 2010.
In 2018, Siddiqui and his colleague Adnan Abidi became the first Indians to win the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for their reporting on the Rohingya refugee crisis. He was also praised for his coverage of the 2020 Delhi riots, the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in India, the Nepal earthquake in 2015, and the 2019-2020 protests in Hong Kong.
Fierce fighting has been reported in and around Kandahar since last week. The Taliban has been trying to regain control over many areas in Afghanistan as the United States withdraws its troops after nearly two decades. Earlier this month, around 50 diplomats and staff members at the Indian consulate in Kandahar were evacuated in view of the worsening situation.