Brave, empathetic against the pain in the world, yet professional about his and his family’s safety — this is how Danish Siddiqui’s father remembered him, the day he won his second Pulitzer prize.
“We feel proud of him but we miss him,” said Akhtar Siddiqui, father of photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was killed while covering a conflict in Afghanistan last year.
Siddiqui, 38, was on an assignment in Afghanistan July last year when he got caught in crossfire while covering clashes between the Afghan troops and the Taliban in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar city.
This is for the second time that the Reuters journalist has won the Pulitzer Prize.
He was honoured with the prestigious award also in 2018 as part of the Reuters team for their coverage of the Rohingya crisis. He had extensively covered the Afghanistan conflict, the Hong Kong protests, and other major events in Asia, Middle East, and Europe.
“It’s a mixed feeling. He would have been certainly happy knowing about this award. He has made us proud, his family proud and the journalistic community proud through his dedication, hard work, value-based work,” his father told PTI over phone.
He said his son has been immortalised through his work.
“The world is honouring him. He was awarded by the Boston University in April this year. Before that he was also given other awards. The world is recognising his work, his contribution. Unfortunately he is not there to continue his work and contribution. We have been receiving lots of messages since morning. He is being respectfully remembered,” the senior Siddiqui said.
The family has set up the Danish Siddiqui Foundation to honour his legacy.
Recalling his son’s work during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, he said that despite all kinds of health risks, Danish carried on working.
“He went around the country, in the hospitals, in the Covid-19 wards, mortuaries, graveyards. He overworked during those days. His view was to show how the people were suffering and to let the world know about it so that we could collectively help people come out of this great disaster,” he said.
“He took the risk at the cost of his personal health and his family. Nothing deterred him from discharging his duties,” he said.
Akhtar Siddiqui said that his son was however, very cautious, about ensuring the safety of his two small children and his aged parents.
“He used to wear double body gear, change in the hospital before leaving for home. After returning home, he used to take a bath in a bathroom outside and would then come inside and stay in a separate room. The children got infected but they recovered soon. He used to take maximum care. He also contracted the infection but it was mild,” he said.
The journalist also avoided visiting his parents who stayed five to six kilometres away, and when he did visit them, he would confine himself to a separate room and communicate from there.
Danish Siddiqui travelled to remote areas in Bhagalpur, in Uttarakhand, spent time in the Covid wards, and followed stories wherever they took him, even to the mortuaries and to the graveyards.
“It was very traumatic for him also. Sometimes he used to share it. But the next morning he would be up for the job again. He was emotionally hit very deeply at that time and would say that he has never seen human suffering of that magnitude. He saw many things at that time that were hard to talk about,” Siddiqui said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)