NEW DELHI: Slain photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was killed in Afghanistan, was on Sunday laid to rest at the Jamia Millia Islamia graveyard where a sea of mourners gathered to pay their last respects.
His body arrived at the Delhi airport in the evening and was later brought to his residence in Jamia Nagar where a huge crowd, including his family and friends, had gathered.
Police was deployed in the area and its personnel kept urging the gathering to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour.
Siddiqui’s body was taken to the graveyard where it was buried around 10.15 pm.
There was a sea of mourners at the burial site to pay their respects.
His friends recalled their last conversations with him and his promise of meeting them once he returned from his assignment.
Some people remembered him as their childhood friend, some as their mentor but what was common in their memories of him was that he was a simple person who was passionate about photography.
Bilal Zaidi (37), a friend of Siddiqui, said, “I met him before Covid as he was always on field and then met him last month when he was here.We exchanged a hellos.”
“He was a very reserved and shy person and that’s why when he started his career as a TV journalist, we felt there was a mismatch. He was somebody who always carried a camera with him whenever he was on field. He enjoyed taking photos and had a passion for still photography. He won Pulitzer for this,” Zaidi said.
Shahdab Alam (37), his childhood friend, said Siddiqui’s death was not only a loss for his family but for the entire nation.
“He was passionate about photography and loved playing cricket. I met him last month for a couple of minutes and had a word with him when he was leaving for the assignment,” he recalled.
Mohammad Meharban, a freelance photojournalist, had last messaged Siddiqui asking whether he would be coming home on Eid-ul-Zuha, and he had replied,”Inshaallah, I will come and will eat with you.”
Remembering his mentor, Meharban broke down. “He was my mentor and I was with him since 2017. He sent me a link of his work. When I opened it and found that he was in Afghanistan, I immediately called him and said it’s not safe there. He said it’s okay, my work has been done and I will be back soon,” he recalled.
Imran Kasim, another childhood friend, remembered meeting him at a friend’s wedding almost four years ago.
“We grew up together. He had a passion for photography and became a photojournalist. We were in touch through WhatsApp and other mediums,” he said.
Siddiqui is an alumnus of Jamia Millia Islamia.
He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 and worked for Reuters news agency.
The photojournalist was killed on Friday in the town of Spin Boldak, near the border with Pakistan.
He was embedded with Afghanistan special forces at the time of his death.
Earlier in the day, the university said in a statement, “Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) Vice Chancellor accepted the request of the family of late photojournalist Danish Siddiqui to bury his body at the JMI graveyard meant exclusively for university employees, their spouses and minor child.”
Siddiqui’s father Akhtar Siddiqui was the Dean of Faculty of Education there.