The parents of Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui, who was shot dead by the Taliban last year, have filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court to investigate their son’s killing.
Siddiqui, 38, was killed while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters near a border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan on July 16. He was covering the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan for Reuters news agency.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Danish Siddiqui Foundation listed six leaders of the Taliban that Siqqidui’s family who it claimed were responsible for his death.
They are Taliban’s Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, Taliban Leadership Council chief Hassan Akhund, the insurgent group’s spokespersons Abdul Ghani Baradar and Zabbihullah Mujahid, Defence Minister of Taliban government in Afghanistan Mawlawi Muhammad Yaqoob Mujahid and Kandahar Province Governor Gul Agha Sherzai.
The family also held local commanders of the Taliban responsible for the killing.
“Danish, our loving son, was murdered by the Taliban for simply carrying out his journalistic duties,” said Shahida Akhtar, Siddiqui’s mother. “He was subjected to barbaric levels of torture and mutilation while in their custody. Danish always stood for honesty and integrity in his work. He always showcased the pain and suffering of the people.”
The statement asserted that Siddiqui’s killing not only amounted to “murder but a crime against humanity and a war crime”.
“The torture and murder of Danish Siddiqui is not an isolated case,” it said. “The Taliban’s military code of conduct, published as the Layha, has a policy of attacking civilians, including journalists. It has claimed responsibility, with impunity, for the targeted abductions and killings of journalists and other members of the civil society.”
Citing reports, the statement noted that Siddiqui was attacked by Taliban’s Red Unit, a special operations forces. The statement claimed said that the photojournalist was brutally tortured and his body mutilated and run over by a heavy vehicle.
“As parents, we feel emotionally and morally obliged to take this action,” Professor Akhtar Siddiqui, Danish Siddiqui’s father, said. “We hope the world will also take notice of the extreme challenges and threats journalists face in reporting from conflict zones. While our son will not come back, our petition will ease our grief in the hope that someday justice will be done.”
Siddiqui’s death and its investigation
Initial reports after Siddiqui’s killing suggested that the journalist, along with a senior Afghan military officer, were killed in crossfire when the Taliban was trying to recapture the main market area of Afghanistan’s Spin Boldak district.
However, an investigative report published by Reuters in August had said that Siddiqui was killed after he was left behind with two soldiers of the Afghan Special Forces while others in the same group had retreated during an attack by the Taliban.
The news agency could not verify all the details that led to the journalist’s death, but a ballistic expert had confirmed that Siddiqui was shot multiple times after he was killed.
An investigation by The New York Times had said that Siddiqui’s body was badly mutilated while in the custody of the Taliban. The report had quoted an unidentified Indian official saying that the photojournalist’s body had nearly a dozen bullet wounds and tyre marks on the face and chest.
The Taliban had denied claims that they killed Siddiqui knowingly.