The tragic death of Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist and Reuters India chief photographer Danish Siddiqui while covering the Afghan conflict underscores the dangers to the lives of those covering wars at the frontlines. According to news reports, he was embedded with the Afghan forces and was covering their battle with the Taliban near Spin Boldak, a key town bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan and the convoy he was traveling with was ambushed by the Taliban.
While the world pays accolades to the slain journalist, let’s take a brief look at his career and work.
Danish Siddiqui first joined Hindustan Times as a correspondent before switching over to TV Today Network. In 2010, he joined Reuters as an intern and extensively covered the Nepal Earthquake of 2015, Rohingya refugee crisis, Battle of Mosul in 2016-17, 2019-20 Hong Kong protests, and the Delhi riots of 2020.
He also covered Kashmir extensively and in his TED Talk, he talked about the pain of Kashmiri victims of the “atrocities” of security forces and victims of pellet injuries. Of course, like most media persons in India, he remained was careful and restrained about how India’s counter-insurgency operation in that troubled region is widely acclaimed for the extreme restraint soldiers show under extremely provocative circumstances.
While he covered the Covid-19 crisis in India extensively through his widely-publicized pictures of burning pyres of Hindu victims of Covid-19, it is interesting to note that there is not a single photograph of Muslim or Christian victims. While pics of Hindu victims are splashed in all their gory and macabre detail, photographs of Muslim burial grounds and Christian cemeteries are muted, dignified, and somber.
He also extensively covered the farmer protests at Delhi’s borders and the Delhi riots of 2020 where one his is most famous pictures is that of a Hindu youth brandishing his pistol.
His work was focused mostly on building an anti-establishment theme and his pictures strived to show the pain of those he thought were oppressed and marginalized.
Also, his pictures served as the basis for western media and even governments to build a narrative of an oppressive and anti-people regime and a highly radicalized Hindu population together choking freedom of expression in the country and violently suppressing the poor and marginalized communities. Photographs like the one a Muslim man being nearly lynched fueled the narrative even further.