On National Press Day, the 2nd Danish Siddiqui Freedom Awards 2023 were presented by Kisan Trust at the esteemed Dr. Ambedkar International Centre in Delhi. These distinguished awards, instituted in memory of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, pay homage to individuals demonstrating unwavering dedication to constitutional values, civil rights advocacy, and the preservation of freedom of expression.
The late Danish Siddiqui, recognized for his exceptional journalism, posthumously received his second Pulitzer for his outstanding coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic. His tragic demise occurred while reporting on the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in July 2021.
This year’s notable awardees include ThePrint’s Ananya Bhardwaj, acknowledged for her exceptional coverage of the Manipur ethnic violence between the Kuki and Meitei communities. Dr. Ram Puniyani, a respected former professor, writer, and social activist, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Atul Loke, an internationally acclaimed photojournalist, was recognized for his courageous photographic documentation from Sri Lanka, Nepal, and other countries.
The felicitation ceremony witnessed the esteemed presence of Rajya Sabha member and Kisan Trust Chairman, Chaudhary Jayant Singh, along with distinguished Kisan Trust members such as senior politician Shahid Siddiqui, Manoj Jha, Yashveer Singh, and Danish Siddiqui’s father, Akhtar Siddiqui.
The jury panel for this year’s awards comprised social activist Yogendra Yadav, senior photojournalist from ThePrint, Praveen Jain, and renowned author and historian Syed Irfan Habib.
Chairman Chaudhary Jayant Singh remarked, “We are honored to recognize these outstanding individuals who have displayed immense courage and dedication in their respective fields. Their commitment to upholding journalistic integrity and civil rights mirrors Danish Siddiqui’s profound legacy.”
During the event, Dr. Ram Puniyani expressed gratitude, highlighting the importance of the farmer movement and freedom of expression in today’s context. Ananya Bhardwaj shared her pride in the honor, crediting her team for supporting her in conveying ground realities. Atul Loke emotionally expressed gratitude for the award in Danish Siddiqui’s name, considering him an integral part of his life.
Jury member Habib applauded “journalists with courage,” likening them to Bhagat Singh, stating, “They are our inspirations.”