Pulitzer Prize 2018 winner Danish Siddiqui: A journalist of courage

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Abdul Rashid Agwan with the team of Volunteers of Change presenting a memento to Danish Siddiqui

By Abdul Rashid Agwan, Muslim Mirror.com

An unassuming young man enters the moderately bedecked drawing room. We instantly recognized him. He was the new celebrity of our locality, of India and of the world of journalism, the one to whom we were there to felicitate for his outstanding achievement.

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Before this year, 5 persons of Indian origin have received the Pulitzer Prize in its hundred years of history, none based in India and all in literature. But, 2018 is somewhat different.

The announcement made last week, recognized two young Indians, both alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia, Danish Siddiqui and Adnan Abdi, who are based in India, though frequently moving around the globe for covering events for their employer the Reuters news agency. Both were part of the team which receives Pulitzer Prize 2018 in photo journalism. Factually, they are the first Indian citizens to be honored so.

After mutual introduction of our team to Danish and his learned father Professor Mohammad Akhtar Siddiqui, our first curious query was why he received this rarest recognition.

He told that he was on his assignment for covering the news about some humanitarian crisis on the Bangladesh border, where Rohigyas of different denominations were crossing it due to fear of Myanmar armies’ persecution. He found the crisis many times larger than what was known through media reports. Many weeks of September and the ensuing months of the previous year engrossed him to remain there under challenging conditions.

When his photos got published in newspapers and made their way to the US Senate, the gravity of the issue was widely known from the humanitarian perspective. Reuters sent its larger crew and reporters of other media establishments started swarming in the area after this. However, he was the first to shoot the cross border exodus and man-made catastrophe for the international media.

Among his many feats during a decade long career in photo journalism, he counted his coverage of recent calamities of Kedarnath and Nepal, his days in Mosul to report on terrorism, his journey to snap sorrows of polluted Ganges from its origin to its major parts and the water vows of Rajasthan.

Once in Mosul, he was in the second vehicle of a convoy moving on a road of the terror-ridden countryside. Suddenly, a drone assaulted the convoy and the front runner team instantly lost lives in the consequent explosion. It was his miraculous escape from death.

He counted many other challenges of his professional life and expressed his gratitude to his supportive family, particularly his wife and the only son studying in a local school, for allowing him to have the professional adventurers.

For a young man of 36 years, getting the first Pulitzer Prize in jounalism for his country and making its people proud and that too for a humanitarian cause is definitely an outcome of his passion for investigative journalism and the journalism of courage.

The team of Volunteers of Change that presented a memento to Danish Siddiqui comprised myself, Muhammad Moinuddin former assistant registrar Jamia Millia Islamia, national award winner in Islamic calligraphy and Shilpguru Irshad Hussain Farooqi, personality development expert Sajid Anas and an administrative staff in the civil services coaching centre of Jamia Millia Iqbal Khan. They also represented different colonies of Jamia Nagar, wherein the family of Danish Siddiqui  dwells. We came to know that his colleague, Adnan Abdi, lives in Mayur Vihar area of East Delhi.

 

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