Reuters wins Pulitzer for intimate, devastating images of India's pandemic


Reuters wins Pulitzer for intimate, devastating images of India's pandemic

Reuters wins Pulitzer for intimate, devastating images of India's pandemic


From hospitals, funeral pyres and remote villages to a Himalayan hillside, car parks and temples, Reuters photographers produced coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in India that captured the spread of the disease and its remorseless toll.

Filed: Month 00, 2022, 11 p.m. GMT

he Reuters team won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for pictures balancing “intimacy and devastation while offering viewers a heightened sense of place”, the jury said. Here is a selection from the winning entry.

India Chief Photographer Danish Siddiqui, who died in July 2021 while covering the war in Afghanistan, took many of the pictures, including an aerial shot of fires from a mass cremation lighting up a Delhi housing estate.

One picture shows a gasping woman receiving oxygen in a car in a parking lot, because of the lack of space in hospitals. Another shows a 19-year-old in a protective suit kneeling before his mother's body after it is placed on a pyre.

Demonstrating that no one felt safe from the disease, Siddiqui also took a picture of an ash-covered Hindu holy man putting on a mask before a ritual dip in the Ganges River.

“Danish owned this story from the start,” said Ahmad Masood, Reuters Asia Chief Photographer. “He broke news with his pictures, showing the scale of the devastation both in Delhi and rural areas. This is a testament to his courage and dedication to journalism.”

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

Just a month before he left for Afghanistan, Siddiqui was on the phone to Sanna Irshad Mattoo, a photojournalist in Kashmir, discussing a different way to illustrate the pandemic. They decided she would visit one of the most remote vaccination camps in the country, on a steep Himalayan hillside.

With no roads suitable for cars, she went up by pony and trekked to the site in Lidderwat, about 3,400 metres (11,150 feet) high, to take the picture of a shepherd receiving his shot.

In western India, veteran photojournalist Amit Dave took a photograph of a veil-covered brick kiln worker having her temperature checked in her hut during a vaccination drive.

A healthcare worker checks the temperature of a woman inside her hut during a coronavirus disease vaccination drive for workers at a brick kiln in Kavitha village, India, April 8, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave

Adnan Abidi, a friend and colleague of Siddiqui who worked with him for over a decade, took a number of the photographs cited by the Pulitzer Prize jury. He travelled outside Delhi to find a village where a man had dragged a cot into the shade from the midsummer sun so his wife could lie in comfort before receiving rehydration fluid.

At a Sikh temple that was providing oxygen to people who could not afford it, he took the picture of a woman desperately pumping the chest of her ailing father.

At the height of the pandemic, many victims were cremated without their family members being allowed to attend. Abidi took one heartbreaking image of volunteers carrying away a bag containing unclaimed ashes from a crematorium.

Manisha Bashu presses the chest of her father, who was having difficulty breathing, after he felt unconscious while receiving oxygen support at a Gurudwara (Sikh temple) in Ghaziabad, India, April 30, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

In addition to covering the spread of the disease across the vast Indian landscape, the Reuters team had to take rigorous safety measures while in the field. They wore protective suits, sunglasses and masks and liberally used sanitisers on themselves and their equipment.

“We had to come back home to our family,” Abidi said.

“This is a tribute to him (Siddiqui) from the whole Reuters team,” said Abidi, who has been on two previous Pulitzer Prize-winning teams, one with Siddiqui. “I really miss him... I wish he was here with us.”

Manoj Kumar waves a handkerchief from the back seat of his vehicle at his mother Vidhya Devi as she receives oxygen in the parking lot of a Gurudwara (Sikh temple) amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease in Ghaziabad, India, April 24, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Pranav Mishra, 19, kneels toward the body of his mother Mamta Mishra, 45, who died from the coronavirus disease, ahead of her cremation, in New Delhi, India, May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A healthcare worker administers a dose of CoviShield, a coronavirus disease vaccine, to a shepherd man during a vaccination drive in Lidderwat,  located in India Kashmir’s Anantnag district, June 10, 2021. REUTERS/Sanna Irshad Mattoo

A man sits next to his wife, who was suffering from a high fever, as she intravenously receives rehydration fluid at a makeshift clinic during a surge of the coronavirus disease in Parsaul village located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India, May 22, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi.

Ashish Kashyap and Naman Sharma, volunteers at a non-profit organization, carry a bag containing unclaimed ashes of victims who died from the coronavirus disease at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, May 9, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A man grieves as his family member is declared dead outside the coronavirus disease casualty ward at the Guru Teg Bahadur hospital in New Delhi, India, April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui.

The body of a person, who died from the coronavirus disease, lies on a funeral pyre during a mass cremation at a crematorium in New Delhi, India May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Family members embrace while wearing personal protective equipment as they mourn a male relative, who died from the coronavirus disease, during his cremation ceremony in New Delhi, India April 21, 2021. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

A female patient suffering from the coronavirus disease is attended to by hospital staff inside the emergency ward of the Holy Family hospital in New Delhi, India, April 29, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Urns containing ashes after final rites of people, including those who died from the coronavirus disease, await immersion due to a national lockdown, at a crematorium in New Delhi, India, May 6, 2021. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The Wider Image

Photography by: Danish Siddiqui, Adnan Abidi, Amit Dave and Sanna Irshad Mattoo

Writing: Raju Gopalakrishnan

Picture Editing: Adrees Latif

Text Editing: Nick Macfie

Design: Kezia Levitas and Marta Montana