National

The Hindu's top photographs of 2020: capturing a year like no other

2020 has been a year like none other. Over and over, it reprised uncomfortable events from the past.

In January, jets brought COVID-19 to India. A little over 100 years ago, in 1918, the Spanish Flu had reached India via ships. In 1947, after the Partition of India, close to 15 million people had walked to their new homes in India and Pakistan. Seventy-three years later, in 2020, India saw another mass exodus of migrant workers leaving cities and trudging back to their homes as coronavirus brought the country to a grinding halt.

Thirty-five years after 1984, Delhi was rocked by communal riots. Though the lockdown dismantled the anti-CAA protests earlier in the year, Delhi is now back under siege, this time by farmers. Thirty-five years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster, another gas leak in the dead of the night near Visakhapatnam had people running out on to the streets gasping for air. A decade after the Mangalore air crash, yet another tabletop airport in India saw a passenger aircraft crash. This time in Kozhikode, 20 passengers died. Cyclones hit the east coast repeatedly, sometimes within ten days of each other. Kerala saw killer landslides, yet again.

In a normal year, even one or two of these events would have dominated the headlines. But in 2020, India had them coming month after month; sometimes, week after week. The Hindu’s photojournalists were at each of these places and more, tracking the events as they unfolded or documenting their aftermath. Below is a selection of images from them that tells the story of 2020.

Kashmiri fisherman wait covered with blankets on his boat to catch fish in the waters of the partially frozen Anchar Lake on the outskirts of Srinagar, on Jan. 02, 2020. Photo: NISSAR AHMAD
Edifice Engineering which demolished Golden Kayaloram, had the challenge of bringing down the building, sandwiched between an Anganwadi hardly two meters away and an under-construction towering apartment complex, executed the implosion by splitting the apartment into two with debris falling excatly where the diminutive building was located. As the cloud of dust cleared, the two-story anganvadi emerged totally unscathed, on January 12, 2020. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
The first known case of coronavirus became known in Kerala, India, via Wuhan, in January 2020. An ambulance driver, seen in full protective gear, waits outside Cochin International Airport for 17 students to be brought from China via Bangkok. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
People assemble in large numbers ahead of Valentine's Day at Shaheen Bagh to extend a heartfelt invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and celebrate the festival of love together in New Delhi, on February 13, 2020. Photo: BIBEK CHETTRI
Ashraf, lotus farmer, plucks lotus flowers in his farmland at Pallar Kayal in Thirunavaya, Malappuram District. Only the buds are plucked for use. The flowers, once blossomed, are removed because if let to fully bloom and dry under the sun, the stamen of the flower dries up and adversely affects later production of buds of the plant. Photo: K. K. Mustafah
The wife of V.R. Baiju, the KSRTC conductor who was among the 19 people killed in the road accident at Avinashi in Tamil Nadu, was inconsolable as his body was brought to Kochi, on February 02, 2020. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
U.S. President Donald Trump, wife Melania Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during NAMASTE TRUMP event at Sardar Patel Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad on February 24, 2020. It is the world's largest cricket stadium with a capacity of 1,10,000 with a 180-degree obstacle-free view. Photo: Vijay Soneji
Protestors run for cover during the anti-CAA-NRC protests, at Khajoori area, in New Delhi on February 24, 2020. Photo: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA
Paramilitary force personnel conduct a flag march in Chandbagh in New Delhi, on February 26, 2020. Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Charred remains of vehicles set ablaze by rioters during communal violence over the amended citizenship law at Shiv Vihar area of the riot-affected North-East Delhi, on March 7, 2020. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
Riots victims seen thronging for relief kits at Mustafabad, in New Delhi on March 03, 2020. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
People gather outside to clap to appreciate the work of those leading the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak during the Janata Curfew in Mangaluru, on March 22, 2020. Photo: H.S. Manjunath
Public with national flags gather on the streets to honour healthcare and other essential service providers at Shevvapet in Salem in Tamil Nadu on March 22, 2020 during the nation-wide call for a Janata curfew to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Photo: E.Lakshmi Narayanan
Migrant workers are seen fleeing from Mumbai on March 28, 2020. They hail from Manesar about 700 km away in Gujarat. The families were confident enough to walk to their hometowns. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
People crowd buses to go to their respective hometowns during the lockdown amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, at Mithapur bus stand, in Patna on March 23, 2020. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
Entrance of a village road has been closed by the villagers after three positive COVID-19 cases emerged in Jagiroad area in Morigaon district of Assam. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
Doctors representing Mahim Dharavi Medical Practioners Association, with help from BMC health department, check patients in slum pockets of Kalyanwadi, Dharavi, on April 12, 2020. Photo: Prashant Nakwe
Amidst spiralling cases of coronavirus, the Tamil Nadu government announced a complete shutdown from April 26 in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai for four days. People crowd the Koyambedu market, Chennai, just ahead of a complete lockdown. Photo: M. Vedhan
Victims being rushed to hospital following the gas leak from LG Polymers in Visakhapatnam, that occurred in the early hours of May 07, 2020. Photo: K.R. Deepak
A man runs to safety while fishing in flood waters on seeing a rhino that suddenly appeared from a nearby reserve forest in search of food, to the outskirts of Guwahati on May 28, 2020. Not only did Assam see multiple floods, other parts of the country bore the brunt of excessive rains, flooding and landslides. Photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
Army personnel and the public paying tributes to havildar Sunil Kumar in Patna on June 18, 2020. He was among the 20 soldiers killed by the Chinese at Galwan Valley. Photo: Ranjeet Kumar
The Shiva temple on the banks of the Periyar river in Aluva is nearly submerged after heavy overnight rains. Residents on the banks of the Periyar and its tributaries were shifted to relief shelters in several places, on August 07, 2020. Photo: H. Vibhu
Wreckage of the Air India Express jet that overshot the runway, at the Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 8, 2020. Photo: SAKEER HUSSAIN
NDRF personnel carry the body of a patient suffering from Coronavirus, at a private COVID-19 care centre in which a fire mishap occurred, resulting in the death of a few people in Vijayawada, on August 09, 2020. Photo: K.V.S. Giri
Search operation on at the landslip-hit area at Pettimudy, near Rajamala, in Idukki district on August 10, 2020. Bad weather conditions hampered the work on the second day after the landslip. Photo: Special Arrangement
In this October 15, 2020 picture, a breach of a bund in Palle Cheruvu (lake) caused inundation of Ali Nagar and other adjoining areas in the old city of Hyderabad, following heavy rains. More than 30 people were killed in Hyderabad after heavy rains lashed the Telangana capital affecting many water bodies that dot the city. But the real cause of flooding is more than a single trigger. There has been tremendous and sustained pressure on water bodies of the city, as large areas of the lakes have been encroached upon to create new infrastructure. The Musi River that flows through the city has seen consistent encroachments on both sides.
In this October 15, 2020 picture, a breach of a bund in Palle Cheruvu (lake) caused inundation of Ali Nagar and other adjoining areas in the old city of Hyderabad, following heavy rains. More than 30 people were killed in Hyderabad after heavy rains lashed the Telangana capital affecting many water bodies that dot the city. But the real cause of flooding is more than a single trigger. There has been tremendous and sustained pressure on water bodies of the city, as large areas of the lakes have been encroached upon to create new infrastructure. The Musi River that flows through the city has seen consistent encroachments on both sides. Photo: Nagara Gopal
Residents, mostly fishermen, run to safety following the heavy winds along the shores of Marina Beach in Pattinampakkam on November 25, 2020 ahead of cyclone Nivar. Photo: R. Ragu
More than 150 mechanised fishing boats which were anchored at Kunthukal during Burevi cyclonic storm, sailed back to Mandapam and Rameswaram crossing the central span of the Pamban rail bridge on December 08, 2020. Photo: L. Balachandar
The long stretch of the key arterial GT Karnal national highway blocked at the Singhu border, more farmers in large numbers continue to arrive to join the ongoing farmers' protest on the 14th day, in New Delhi on December 09, 2020. Photo: V. V. Krishnan
Instances of farmers feeding security personnel manning barricades were caught on camera often during the farmers' protest. Here, a Punjab Police officer returns the favour to the protesting farmers at Singhu border, on the outskirts of Delhi. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma