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Four photojournalists won the Pulitzer for their stark images of India’s covid trauma

Residences surround the grounds of a crematorium during a mass cremation for victims of the coronavirus disease in New Delhi, India, April 22, 2021.
REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
Documenting lives and loss.
  • Manavi Kapur
By Manavi Kapur


Published Last updated

Defining images from India’s covid-19 crisis of 2021 now have global recognition.

Four photographers in India from the Reuters news agency won the Pulitzer Prize in the feature photo category for 2022. Adnan Abidi, Amit Dave, Danish Siddiqui, and Sanna Irshad Mattoo claimed the recognition for their “images of COVID’s toll in India that balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place.”

REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
Ashish Kashyap and Naman Sharma, volunteers at a nonprofit organization, carried a bag containing unclaimed ashes of victims who died from the coronavirus disease at a crematorium in New Delhi in May 2021.

This is the second Pulitzer for Siddiqui and the third for Abidi. The duo were part of the team that won the Pulitzer for covering the Rohingya exodus in 2018, and Abidi’s work during the Hong Kong protests was awarded in 2020. Mattoo, a 28-year-old resident of Srinagar, is the first Kashmiri woman to win the Pulitzer.

Of the four, Siddiqui’s award was posthumous. He was killed in July 2021 while covering fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban. This was shortly after Siddiqui’s stark photos from India’s crematoriums during the second wave of covid-19, which exposed the government’s inability to control the pandemic or accurately count the dead.

REUTERS/Sanna Irshad Mattoo
A healthcare worker administered a dose of CoviShield, a coronavirus vaccine, to a shepherd during a vaccination drive in Lidderwat, in India’s Anantnag district in Kashmir in June 2021.

Photographs from Reuters were published in international publications like The New York Times, which drew the ire of the government under prime minister Narendra Modi. While there was no direct backlash from the government, Modi, who often uses Twitter to offer condolences to public figures including journalists, remained silent on Siddiqui’s death.

A healthcare worker checked the temperature of a woman inside her hut during a coronavirus disease vaccination drive for workers at a brick kiln in Kavitha village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in April 2021.

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