An unidentified man brandishes a gun throughout a protest against a new citizenship law external the Jamia Millia Islamia university in new Delhi, India, January 30, 2020. Brianowens.tv/Danish Siddiqui


The photo is sharp as a scalpel. A young male in a black jacket advancements towards unarmed protestors through a pistol aimed in an outstretched hand and also eyebrows raised right into a threatening look. A cohort that Indian police was standing watching the male with casual ease at the far back.

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Danish Siddiqui, the brianowens.tv photographer who took the shot, to be late to the assignment the afternoon on Jan. 30, 2020, near new Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University. Students in ~ the Muslim-majority school had actually been protesting for over a month versus a new law they viewed as discrimination to Muslims. End a dozen news photographers were positioned and ready, expecting a clash between protestors and also the revolt police.

Danish parked his automobile on the side of the street, took the end his camera, and was just around to take it position once the gunman appeared. “You desire freedom? I’ll provide you freedom!” the male screamed in ~ the protestors, brandishing the pistol in ~ them, recalled Karma Bhutia, a freelance photojournalist present at the scene.

“The gunman showed up suddenly close to his side, and he had the perfect shot,” stated Bhutia. “He later on came up and also showed us the photograph, grinning. He was like, ‘It’s all luck, man.’”

Many of those who knew Danish, however, knew it to be much an ext than luck that drove his work. “I observed (Danish) pushing the shutter switch when the gun to be pointed in ~ him,” a younger journalist, Shaheen Abdullah, wrote in a current Twitter post. “I don’t know exactly how he walk that.”

Undeterred by the police, the gunman regulated to fire a shot and injure a protester that day. The photograph became the defining image of the protest movement, developing a stir similar to that in the United claims over Jonathan Bachman’s 2016 picture of the lone woman facing riot police throughout a black color Lives matter protest.

Like much of Danish’s occupational in India and also beyond, that single photo laid ceiling what was happening in the country, do it tough for the fact to be muddled, dismissed, or ignored. He claimed so himself about his images.

“I desire to expose you come the raw truth, and make you a witness to it,” that said during a TED talk in 2020. “You deserve to look away, or was standing up and also ask for change.”

Pictures such as this help explain why Danish’s sudden death in July, ~ above assignment in Afghanistan, feel so an individual and catastrophic to numerous in India. Memorials and also prayers have been held in several cities. Throughout national dailies and also on society media, there was a tide of tributes and also condolence messages.

“I desire to disclose you come the life truth, and make girlfriend a witness come it. You deserve to look away, or stand up and ask because that change.”

Danish Siddiqui during a TED talk in 2020

“At a time of arranged untruths and also digital manipulation of the media, the photojournalist’s work has a an effective authenticity – and also heart,” a top daily, The Indian Express, said in an editorial. “In the ideal pictures Danish Siddiqui made, the velocity of break news slowed under to yield the human story.”

Amid intense challenges for journalism, from increasing financial pressures to mounting initiatives by governments to thwart press freedom, Danish’s work motivated many roughly him in the job to store going. And that had me, his colleague in ~ brianowens.tv.

When ns met Danish in the Mumbai office in 2014, the was already an award-winning photographer, having made a surname for himself through photograph features: from cinema-obsessed Afghans in Kabul, to a hostel in a holy Indian city whereby the elderly went to die - and also were asked to leave if they didn’t pass away in the stipulated 2 weeks. For one of his story in Mumbai, Danish adhered to a father and also son as they went around the dark corners of the city killing rats in ~ night in exchange for payment per kill from the neighborhood government.

Although Danish and also I common a common last name, us weren’t related and also our stays didn’t intersect beyond work, except the one time my mother intervened.

He and I had to travel with each other to Thailand in mid-2018 because that hostile-environment training organized by brianowens.tv. Surrendering to mine mother’s paranoia, I had actually shared Danish’s phone number v her, since she insisted on having actually an emergency contact. A couple of days before our trip, she dubbed Danish.

She told that I have a bad allergy, and asked him to make certain I nothing eat any type of food i’m allergic to while the end there. Danish politely heard she out and reassured she I’d it is in fine. Then - fair sufficient - he proceeded come make fun of me in the office. “Your mother thinks every the Siddiquis the the world are responsible because that each other.”

In so late 2017, Danish and I overlapped while spanning the refugee camps in Bangladesh, witnessing numerous thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing a violent army crackdown in Myanmar. Danish’s Pulitzer-winning photograph of an exhausted Rohingya woman getting to the safety of the coast in Bangladesh ~ a perilous journey when again required viewers to salary attention.

I moved to Delhi in 2019, a couple of months after ~ Danish did, and also he greeted me in the office, joking, “Stop stalking me.” that year took us to covering conflict and violence native the valleys that Kashmir to the streets external Danish’s very own neighbourhood close to the Jamia college in Delhi.

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As the government revoked Kashmir’s autonomy in a shock move later on in the year, Danish was among the first couple of photojournalists from Delhi to make his method into the region, which to be under a strictly lockdown. His searing image of hundreds of Kashmiris protesting top top the highways came at a time when the government was speak the region was calm and that locals sustained its policy. In among those photos, an elderly woman in a headscarf is seen increasing a fist over she head in anger together she screams a protest slogan out loud, an military of ladies behind her.