The Taliban came to power from the southern province in the 1990s, promising to end atrocities committed by local militias. In recent years, Afghan forces led by Abdul Raziq, a general assassinated in 2018, have been accused of ruthless tactics as they battled the Taliban in Kandahar. Spin Boldak, where Mr. Siddiqui died, was the hometown of General Raziq. Reports were published that the Taliban were detaining and in some cases executing people who had been associated with the general.
There are conflicting reports of what happened on July 16, as the Afghan Special Forces Mr Siddiqui was traveling with attempted to retake Spin Boldak.
Testimonies from local officials, as well as Taliban operatives, suggest that Mr. Siddiqui and the Afghan unit commander were killed in an exchange of fire when their convoy was ambushed in several directions. Their bodies were left on the battlefield as the rest of the unit retreated, according to this version of events.
Some news outlets reported that Mr. Siddiqui could have been captured alive by the Taliban and then executed. These reports could not be confirmed. An Indian official said, however, that some of Mr Siddiqui’s injuries appeared to have come from point-blank gunshots.
Three days before his assassination, Mr. Siddiqui posted a video on Twitter in which he said several rocket-propelled grenades hit the armored vehicle he was in.
His body, in a closed coffin, was returned to his New Delhi home two days after his death. The narrow alley leading to his house was crowded with neighbors and friends. Colleagues – many of whom had accompanied him as he covered some of India’s most tumultuous recent events, such as the mass protests and the coronavirus pandemic – cried, hugged and took comfort.