Indian journalist Danish Siddiqui did not die in crossfire but was brutally murdered by the Taliban, the US news magazine Washington Examiner reported Thursday.
Siddiqui, who was working for Reuters, died on July 16 while covering clashes between Afghan security forces and Taliban in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar, which borders Pakistan.
"The circumstances of Siddiqui's death are now clear. He was not simply killed in a crossfire, nor was he simply collateral damage; rather, he was brutally murdered by the Taliban," stated former US Defense Secretary Adviser Michael Rubin, who authored the report.
Rubin is currently a resident scholar at US think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and specializes in Iran, Turkey, and the broader affairs in the Middle East.
Michael Rubin Thursday provided a graphic account of Siddiqi's tragic death:
Local Afghan authorities say that Siddiqui traveled with an Afghan National Army team to the Spin Boldak region to cover fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban to control the lucrative border crossing with Pakistan. When they got to within one-third of a mile of the customs post, a Taliban attack split the team, with the commander and a few men separated from Siddiqui, who remained with three other Afghan troops.
During this assault, shrapnel hit Siddiqui, and so he and his team went to a local mosque where he received first aid. As word spread, however, that a journalist was in the mosque, the Taliban attacked. The local investigation suggests the Taliban attacked the mosque only because of Siddiqui's presence there.
Siddiqui was alive when the Taliban captured him. The Taliban verified Siddiqui's identity and then executed him, as well as those with him. The commander and the remainder of his team died as they tried to rescue him.
While a widely circulated public photograph shows Siddiqui's face recognizable, I reviewed other photographs and a video of Siddiqui's body provided to me by a source in the Indian government that show the Taliban beat Siddiqui around the head and then riddled his body with bullets.
racist campaign against Danish Siddiqui
The Editors Guild of India while condoling the death of Danish Siddiqui, said the Guild is deeply disturbed by the vicious and highly regrettable racist campaign being run against him by some sections of social media. His death is an occasion to remember him and all the journalists who have died in conflict reporting.
The Guild condolence message pointed out that over the past decade, he had covered some of most heart-wrenching stories of conflict and humanitarian crisis from South Asia and the surrounding regions--the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Nepal earthquake, war in Iraq, Easter blasts in Sri Lanka, protests in Hong Kong, the riots in North East Delhi in 2020, and most recently, the coverage of the devastating human tragedy caused by the pandemic. He was part of the Reuters team that won the Pulitzer prize in 2018 for documenting the Rohingya crisis.
Modi rejected an Indian hero
Anchal Vohra, wrote in the Foreign Policy on July 23, Siddiqui's death was covered as a national story, and there were ceremonial condolences from a few government representatives. But the loudest response was the silence of India's Twitter-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some of his supporters took that as a signal to besmirch Siddiqui's work and life. A moment of potential solidarity thus became a moment of discord, with India's Muslim community feeling estranged and unacknowledged for their contributions to the Indian society.
"But Siddiqui rose to the stature of a local hero for his critical work within India. He routinely exposed the shortcomings of the Indian government. In 2019, his images crushed the false narrative that students protesting in New Delhi against an anti-Muslim citizenship law were instigating violence. It was Siddiqui again who took the photo of an unarmed Muslim man being beaten by a Hindu mob in Delhi as the capital was engulfed in Hindu-Muslim riots. Most prominently, Siddiqui was among the first to shoot images of crematoriums packed with pyres of Hindus who died of the coronavirus this summer. His footage and photographs revealed the extent of the crisis unfolding in India and brought the world's attention to it," Vohra said, adding:
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