Hundreds Gather to Bid Goodbye to Danish Siddiqui, Buried in Alma Mater Jamia Millia Islamia

Many young and aspiring journalists who looked up to him and took inspiration from Siddiqui's work were present.

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New Delhi: It is not everyday that hundreds of people gather in the lanes of Ghaffar Manzil, and certainly not on a humid Sunday night.

But that’s what happened on July 18. At least 500 people gathered to say a final goodbye and lay Danish Siddiqui’s body to rest at Jamia Millia Islamia. Those who attended, apart from family members, included Jamia Millia Islamia students, faculty and fellow journalists.

The Jamia Millia Islamia vice chancellor accepted the Siddiqui family’s request to bury the photojournalist at the JMI graveyard meant exclusively for university employees, their spouses and minor child.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist was killed in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan. The news broke on July 16 and took many by shock, owing to his young age and the circumstances in which he died.

His neighbours from Jamia Nagar’s Gaffar Manzil, where Siddiqui grew up, also joined. Many young and aspiring journalists who looked up to him and took inspiration from Siddiqui’s work were also present.

While sharing anecdotes, one Jamia student said, “Like some others, I never had the opportunity to meet him, get mentored, or even a direct dialogue. But I am here because like many who knew him, I also looked up to him.”

Another one said, “His death is a loss to not just India’s media fraternity, but also to journalism as a whole.”

Hundreds gathered to bid Danish Siddiqui a last farewell. Photo: Ismat Ara

After Siddiqui’s body landed at Delhi airport at around 6 pm, crowds awaiting him near Jamia Millia Islamia, where was to be buried alongside other Jamia staff members, started swelling.

With the number of people increasing, the security force and police deployment was also tightened. The police instructed people to follow social distancing norms, as did the Jamia Millia Islamia administration.

At around 8 pm, the body finally reached the house, where his parents, wife and children were waiting to see him one last time. Islamic rituals before burial were done inside the house, and he was taken in a van to Jamia Millia Islamia, his alma mater. The gathering followed the van.

As part of the Islamic ritual, namaz-e-janaza, a funeral prayer was performed at around 10 pm. He was then buried at the Jamia Millia Islamia graveyard.

Musheer Zaidi, an alumni from Jamia Millia Islamia who attended the prayer, said, “Such is the respect and awe that Danish Siddique’s exemplary work commanded that his funeral procession was eventually attended by thousands of mourners who were there to honour his resilience and courage.”