I&B minister, media bodies condole Indian photojournalist's death in Afghanistan

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New Delhi, Jul 16 (PTI) Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday condoled the death of Indian photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Danish Siddiqui in Afghanistan, saying he leaves behind an extraordinary body of work.

Siddiqui was killed in Afghanistan while covering fighting between Afghan troops and the Taliban.

'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. Sharing one of his pictures below. Sincere condolences. RIP,' Thakur said in a tweet.

Several media groups like the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) of South Asia and the Press Club of India (PCI) expressed shock at Siddiqui's death and remembered him as a courageous and 'fiercely talented' photojournalist. Siddiqui was a member of the FCC.

'The Press Club of India is shocked at the passing of @Reuters' @PulitzerPrizes winning photojournalist @dansiddiqui at Kandahar where he fell to the bullets of the Taliban. True journalism needs courage and Danish's body of work is a testament to that. We are at a loss of words,' it said in a tweet.

The FCC, a group of over 500 journalists and photojournalists covering India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan and Tibet, said it was a devastating loss for Siddiqui's family and the Delhi journalist community.

'Danish Siddiqui was a fiercely talented photojournalist whose pictures eloquently and forcefully told the story of South Asia. It is a devastating loss for his family, friends, colleagues and the Delhi journalist community, among whom he was universally admired.

'More often than not, the singular image that defined the biggest news of the day, resonant for its humanity and artistry, was taken by Danish. He will be remembered for his intelligence, compassion and bravery, and his body of work will live on forever. The governing committee of the FCC takes this sad opportunity to draw attention to the enormous risks journalists take to deliver essential information to the world,' it said in a statement.

Siddiqui, in his early 40s, was killed during clashes in Spin Boldak district in Kandahar, Tolo News quoted sources as saying. It said fierce fighting is going on in Kandahar, especially in Spin Boldak, for the last few days.

The Indian journalist was covering the situation in Kandahar.

Siddiqui's alma mater, Jamia Millia Islamia's AJK Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC), mourned his death and remembered him as one of the 'brightest stars' of the institute.

'It is absolutely devastating news and we are still processing it. Danish was one of the brightest stars in MCRC's hall of fame. His passing will be deeply mourned. Danish was special not just because of all his professional achievements, but because of the wonderful man he was.

'He has been one of those alumni who kept in regular touch with the photography department and came back to the campus often. He took a class last month as well,' said Professor Shohini Ghosh, director of AJK MCRC, who taught Siddiqui during his postgraduate course in the institute between 2005 and 2007.

Siddiqui was based in Mumbai. He had received the Pulitzer Prize as part of the photography staff of the Reuters news agency.

He graduated with a degree in Economics from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. He had a degree in Mass Communication from the AJK MCRC in Jamia in 2007.

He started his career as a television news correspondent, switched to photojournalism and joined Reuters as an intern in 2010.

Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay said on Friday that Siddiqui has been killed in Kandahar.

'Deeply disturbed by the sad news of the killing of a friend, Danish Siddiqi in Kandahar last night. The Indian Journalist & winner of Pulitzer Prize was embedded with Afghan security forces. I met him 2 weeks ago before his departure to Kabul. Condolences to his family & Reuters,' Mamundzay said in a tweet.

Afghanistan witnessed a series of terror attacks in the last few weeks as the United States withdrew the majority of its troops from the country and aimed to complete the process by August 31, ending nearly two decades of its military presence there.

The Taliban was evicted from power by the US-led forces in 2001. Now, as the US is pulling back its troops, the Taliban fighters are attempting to gain control of various parts of the country. PTI AG RC

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