40 minutes agoAuthor: Sandhya Dwivedi
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- Photojournalist Danish killed in Taliban attack in Afghanistan
- He was covering an encounter between Taliban militants and Afghan security personnel in Kandahar.
In the second wave of Corona, a picture of wildly burning dead bodies in Delhi’s crematorium had put the ‘real picture’ of the country in front of everyone. Another picture of two people putting oxygen in a bed at Loknayak Jai Prakash Hospital had captured the crisis of people battling for treatment during the Corona period. These pictures shook the government.
At the time of Corona, when the whole country had almost come to a standstill, then 40-year-old Danish Siddiqui’s camera took such pictures which shook not only the country but the world. But his fans are surprised by the picture of Danish that came out on July 16. His friends are in shock, the family is in mourning. Because Danish lost his life in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan. He was covering an encounter between Taliban militants and Afghan security personnel in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar, bordering Pakistan, on Thursday night.
Danish’s friend Shams Raza told Dainik Bhaskar that Danish used to say, ‘Look, when I draw pictures and write on them, the world will not be able to ignore them, people may not recognize me but they will not be able to forget the pictures.’
Everyone has only one request that Danish’s body should be brought to India as soon as possible. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the process of bringing the dead body has started. But at what time the dead body will come, the answer is not with the ministry yet.
Shams Raza said that Danish never looked nervous or upset before going to report in distressed areas, on the contrary, he used to make every effort to go to such places.
Danish’s friend Shams Raza says, ‘If Danish had heard of any crisis somewhere in the whole world, he would have put all his efforts to go there. Especially the news of going to the troubled areas like conflict zone, war zone used to refresh his passion.
We told them to be careful when they were doing risky reporting, we had advised them to come back when they had narrow escapes in Afghanistan before. But he had said, I am in the war zone, such incidents will happen. I will come back tomorrow if not today. But I think about those who will have to live in this war zone for years and years now.
Visa was received on the day of going to Afghanistan, what did we know that it is a death visa
Shams says that he had met Danish about two weeks ago. Danish was to go to Afghanistan but till then the visa could not be obtained. He was eagerly waiting for the visa, he was worried that the visa should not get stuck. His visa was cleared on the day he was to leave for Afghanistan. But little did we know that it would prove to be a death visa.
His family members and all our friends used to care for him, he used to explain to us on the contrary that not only do I take photos, I also know how to protect myself in these areas. So there is no need to be afraid. In fact, Danish had received very good training for such reporting at Reuters. They were told all the ways to escape in these areas.
Even during Corona, when Danish was reporting, he was provided with PPE kit, shield, everything from the office. Danish has already reported on war in a country like Iraq. Every time he came back, he used to bring many stories with him.
Shams says that friends used to wait for Danish (watch-wearing) stories, wish Danish would come back with more stories this time too. Danish was brave, as if fear did not even touch him.
Father told – never felt that Danish is under stress
According to Shams Raza, Danish’s father Mohd. Akhtar Siddiqui is requesting to bring Danish’s body to India as soon as possible. When some journalists asked his father whether Danish ever used to get tense while talking to Afghanistan? So they say – Danish was used to working in such conditions. It never felt like Danish was under stress. Danish had also promised to come in 2-4 days.
Danish (right) had grown very fast. He joined Reuters as a trainee. But later he went on to become the Chief Photographer of Mumbai. At this time he was the Chief Photographer of Reuters in India.
Danish became a photojournalist from a journalist
Danish’s journalism journey started with NewsX. In 2007, friends Shams and Danish started their career together with NewsX. After a year and a half, Danish moved to India Today’s TV channel. In 2010, Danish got the platform of journalism that he used to dream of while studying journalism.
He got an offer for photojournalism from Reuters. Friend Shams says, ‘Actually, he did not want to be a TV journalist but a photojournalist from the beginning. But when the campus selection happened immediately after studies, he thought that let’s start and then it will be seen how to fulfill his dream.
Danish’s progress was very rapid. He joined Reuters as a trainee. But later he went on to become the Chief Photographer of Mumbai. At this time he was the Chief Photographer of India. The photographs of Dharavi slums in Mumbai brought him to the attention of top Reuters officials.
The journey from school to becoming a journalist was like this
Danish did his schooling at Father Agnel School in Delhi. He did journalism from Jamia Millia. Shams says that from his school days, Danish used to watch every picture closely. During his studies in journalism, he had the ghost of becoming a photojournalist. There was absolutely no pressure on him to become or not to become something in his house. His father was a senior professor. Mother was a housewife. Danish was the eldest of three siblings. Maybe that’s why he was so responsible.
Friends of Danish (right) tell that Danish lived wherever he was, but did not forget to talk to his friends in 2-3 days.
Friend, husband, son and father were perfect in every role
Shams tells that Danish had done love marriage. Both of them met in Germany. Danish went there only under one of his official projects. Danish fell in love only once and married him. When I see him as a son, he was always concerned for his father and mother. He used to very cleverly explain to his wife, who was always afraid of their risky journeys.
Pulitzer was found in 2018
The Danish team won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in the Feature Photography category for their coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis. Apart from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he also covered the Corona epidemic, Nepal earthquake and Hong-Kong protests.
Shams told that whenever we used to instruct Danish to stay with safety, he used to say that if man will come, we will spend many hours together as friends. I will tell many stories. This time I am bringing the whole box.
Foreign Ministry said – cannot tell right now when Danish’s body will come
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said, ‘Talks have been held with the Afghan government to bring the dead body. We will bring the body soon. But can’t tell the time now. On asking Bagchi, whose bullet killed Danish? Taliban or Army? They say – Danish was reporting in the war zone. The struggle is at its peak right now. Right now we are gathering information about this.