In Memoriam: Danish Siddiqui, ‘Journalist Of The Year’Dec 30, 2021 | Shalini Rai
Pulitzer awardee photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who died during an assignment in Afghanistan on July 16, 2021, has been posthumously awarded as the ‘Journalist of the Year’ for 2020 by the Mumbai Press Club.
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana on Wednesday presented the annual ‘RedInk Awards for Excellence in Journalism’, instituted by the Mumbai Press Club, in a virtual event.
He presented the prestigious award to Siddiqui “for his spectrum of investigative and impactful news photography”. Danish Siddiqui’s wife Frederike Siddiqui received the award.
“He was a man with a magical eye and was rightly regarded as one of the foremost photojournalists of this era. If a picture can tell a thousand words, his photos were novels,” Chief Justice Ramana said while paying tributes to the scribe.
Siddiqui covered myriad events and explored several different subjects with the same eye for detail, a novel perspective and a unique ability to let his humanity shine through.
His series of pictures of a secret child marriage in August 2013 are punctuated with palpable empathy. Here’s how Siddiqui himself described the series named A Child Born Of Children: “I first took pictures of this child couple in a small village in the desert state of Rajasthan in 2010. Back then I had no idea that I would come back to this village again. But life had something else in store and I have been visiting them every year since, documenting the changes in and around their relationship. When I went to their house last week I was greeted by the loud wailing of a baby. It was their four-month-old son Alok, which means enlightenment in Hindi. Last year when I visited them, I had learnt that Krishna, the child bride, was seven months pregnant. I wasn’t surprised at all but out of curiosity I asked Gopal, her husband, why he was in such a hurry to expand the family. He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Nothing else to do, no work, life is so boring.’ I was a bit taken aback. There are those like me who live in big cities and plan meticulously before taking the plunge into parenthood. And here this teenager was telling me that he wanted to have a child and risk his young wife’s life because of boredom. That again is a different India.”
Then there are the photographs he captured in Bhopal, the site of one of the worst industrial disasters in world history. Titled Bhopal’s Legacy, his subjects include rusted chemical tanks, the abandoned Union Carbide factory, children born with congenital deformities several decades after the disaster, families sundered apart due to death and disease — all underscored by the fellowship that each of these photographs lucidly portrays.
As Siddiqui himself said, “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.”