Powerful photos that made headlines in India in 2020

Khristina Jacob
·12 min read

If pictures can speak a thousand words, these Photos of the Year 2020 gave us volumes. We bring you to you the photos that defined the year, and all the crazy, volatile, surprising, horrifying, events this year has entailed.

From the anti-CAA protests that started 2020, the farmer protest that is wrapping up 2020, and the pandemic in between, India has gone through a LOT.

Trigger warning - Some photos may be distressing.

Countrywide Anti-CAA, NRC protests

NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 19: People gathered in numbers to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Shaheen Bagh, on January 19, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 19: People gathered in numbers to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Shaheen Bagh, on January 19, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - MARCH 6: People protest and road block at Nagpada junction as Mumbai police lathi charged on protesters of Mumbai bag early hours of Friday, on March 6, 2020 in Mumbai, India.  The protesters claimed the police had objected to a temporary shade put up by them at the protest site, though officials denied allegations of manhandling. (Photo by Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - MARCH 6: People protest and road block at Nagpada junction as Mumbai police lathi charged on protesters of Mumbai bag early hours of Friday, on March 6, 2020 in Mumbai, India. The protesters claimed the police had objected to a temporary shade put up by them at the protest site, though officials denied allegations of manhandling. (Photo by Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

JNU Incident and Backlash

NEW DELHI, INDIA  JANUARY 06: Shot of JNU campus where JNU students protest after violent attacks on them, New Delhi. (Photo by Rajat Sain/India Today Group/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA JANUARY 06: Shot of JNU campus where JNU students protest after violent attacks on them, New Delhi. (Photo by Rajat Sain/India Today Group/Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 6: Suryaprakash, a blind research scholar pursuing MPhil in Sanskrit, speaks on the phone while sitting in his room at Sabarmati Hostel, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), on January 6, 2020 in New Delhi, India. He was also beaten up during yesterdays violence inside the campus. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 6: Suryaprakash, a blind research scholar pursuing MPhil in Sanskrit, speaks on the phone while sitting in his room at Sabarmati Hostel, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), on January 6, 2020 in New Delhi, India. He was also beaten up during yesterdays violence inside the campus. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - JANUARY 6: Bollywood filmmakers Anubhav Sinha, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, actress Taapsee Pannu and others participate in a peaceful protest against the attack on New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, at Carter Road, on  January 6, 2020 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - JANUARY 6: Bollywood filmmakers Anubhav Sinha, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, actress Taapsee Pannu and others participate in a peaceful protest against the attack on New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University campus, at Carter Road, on January 6, 2020 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 7: Actor Deepika Padukone is seen at a gathering at JNU in solidarity with the students protesting against Sunday's violence, on January 7, 2020 in New Delhi, India. On Sunday, a mob of masked young people stormed the JNU campus in south Delhi and systematically targeted students in three hostels, unleashing mayhem with sticks, stones and iron rods, hitting inmates and breaking windows, furniture and personal belongings. At least 30 people including students and teachers injured. They also attacked a women's hostel. Left and ABVP are blamed each other for the attack. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 7: Actor Deepika Padukone is seen at a gathering at JNU in solidarity with the students protesting against Sunday's violence, on January 7, 2020 in New Delhi, India. On Sunday, a mob of masked young people stormed the JNU campus in south Delhi and systematically targeted students in three hostels, unleashing mayhem with sticks, stones and iron rods, hitting inmates and breaking windows, furniture and personal belongings. At least 30 people including students and teachers injured. They also attacked a women's hostel. Left and ABVP are blamed each other for the attack. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The Fearless Women of Shaheen Bagh

Bilkis, 80, the Shaheen Bagh dadi listed among TIMEs most influential people of 2020. Picture taken at Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi during CAA Protests on 02 February 2020  (Photo by Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Bilkis, 80, the Shaheen Bagh dadi listed among TIMEs most influential people of 2020. Picture taken at Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi during CAA Protests on 02 February 2020 (Photo by Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Delhi Riots

SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB  A group of men chanting pro-Hindu slogans, beat Mohammad Zubair, 37, who is Muslim, during protests sparked by a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui: "It had been a winter of protests in India, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets against a new citizenship law that many felt discriminated against the country's Muslim minority. In February, competing protests between those against the law and its supporters turned into communal riots with violent clashes. A source called me to tell me that trouble had broken out at one of the protest sites. Within a few minutes of arriving on the scene, it became clear this was a more dangerous situation, with heavy stone-pelting, and throwing of Molotov cocktails and bottles of acid. Shadowing lines of heavily outnumbered police, I noticed more than a dozen people ranging from teenagers to old men assaulting a Muslim man in white clothes. Using sticks, cricket stumps, plastic pipes and metal rods, they brutally beat the man. Blood flowed from his head as he went down on his knees. The attack was over in less than a minute, as Muslims on the other side of the road started throwing stones. The man, whom I later came to know as Mohammad Zubair, lay on the road alone as stones, bricks and Molotov cocktails flew over him. Zubair suffered serious injuries all over his body as well as internally but was lucky to survive and is still recovering. 'They saw I was alone, they saw my cap, beard, shalwar kameez (traditional outfit) and saw me as a Muslim,' Zubair said to me when I met him a couple of days later. 'They just started attacking, shouting slogans. What kind of humanity is this?'" REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File photo     SEARCH "POY STORIES 2020" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB A group of men chanting pro-Hindu slogans, beat Mohammad Zubair, 37, who is Muslim, during protests sparked by a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui: "It had been a winter of protests in India, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets against a new citizenship law that many felt discriminated against the country's Muslim minority. In February, competing protests between those against the law and its supporters turned into communal riots with violent clashes. A source called me to tell me that trouble had broken out at one of the protest sites. Within a few minutes of arriving on the scene, it became clear this was a more dangerous situation, with heavy stone-pelting, and throwing of Molotov cocktails and bottles of acid. Shadowing lines of heavily outnumbered police, I noticed more than a dozen people ranging from teenagers to old men assaulting a Muslim man in white clothes. Using sticks, cricket stumps, plastic pipes and metal rods, they brutally beat the man. Blood flowed from his head as he went down on his knees. The attack was over in less than a minute, as Muslims on the other side of the road started throwing stones. The man, whom I later came to know as Mohammad Zubair, lay on the road alone as stones, bricks and Molotov cocktails flew over him. Zubair suffered serious injuries all over his body as well as internally but was lucky to survive and is still recovering. 'They saw I was alone, they saw my cap, beard, shalwar kameez (traditional outfit) and saw me as a Muslim,' Zubair said to me when I met him a couple of days later. 'They just started attacking, shouting slogans. What kind of humanity is this?'" REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File photo SEARCH "POY STORIES 2020" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 24: A protester hurl stones during a clash between anti CAA and pro CAA demonstrations, at Bhajanpura  on February 24, 2020 in New Delhi, India. A Delhi Police cop and three civilians have died, a DCP-rank officer injured, a petrol pump torched, a number of houses, cars and shops burnt after clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters in Maujpur and Jafarabad areas of North East Delhi. There was tension in the area after hundreds of anti-CAA protesters, mostly women, blocked a road near the Jaffrabad metro station connecting Seelampur with Maujpur and Yamuna Vihar. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 24: A protester hurl stones during a clash between anti CAA and pro CAA demonstrations, at Bhajanpura on February 24, 2020 in New Delhi, India. A Delhi Police cop and three civilians have died, a DCP-rank officer injured, a petrol pump torched, a number of houses, cars and shops burnt after clashes between pro and anti-CAA protesters in Maujpur and Jafarabad areas of North East Delhi. There was tension in the area after hundreds of anti-CAA protesters, mostly women, blocked a road near the Jaffrabad metro station connecting Seelampur with Maujpur and Yamuna Vihar. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times)

Namaste Trump

US President Donald Trump (L) looks on as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves during 'Namaste Trump' rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on February 24, 2020. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) looks on as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves during 'Namaste Trump' rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on February 24, 2020. (Photo by Mandel NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Coronavirus Lockdown

NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 22: A deserted view of India Gate, on March 22, 2020 in New Delhi, India. PM Modi proposed a 'Janata curfew' for the day between 7 am and 9 pm as part of social distancing to check the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly a billion Indians stayed indoors on Sunday, heeding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to citizens to self-isolate as authorities battle to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 22: A deserted view of India Gate, on March 22, 2020 in New Delhi, India. PM Modi proposed a 'Janata curfew' for the day between 7 am and 9 pm as part of social distancing to check the spread of the coronavirus. Nearly a billion Indians stayed indoors on Sunday, heeding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to citizens to self-isolate as authorities battle to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
(COMBO) This combination of pictures taken and created on March 22, 2020, shows deserted (clockwise) Subhash Chowk in Allahabad, Rajpath leading to India Gate in New Delhi, road in Kolkata and Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai during a one-day nationwide Janata (civil) curfew imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. - Nearly one billion people around the world were confined to their homes, as the coronavirus death toll crossed 13,000 and factories were shut in worst-hit Italy after another single-day fatalities record. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by SANJAY KANOJIA,JEWEL SAMAD,PUNIT PARANJPE,DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)
(COMBO) This combination of pictures taken and created on March 22, 2020, shows deserted (clockwise) Subhash Chowk in Allahabad, Rajpath leading to India Gate in New Delhi, road in Kolkata and Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai during a one-day nationwide Janata (civil) curfew imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus. - Nearly one billion people around the world were confined to their homes, as the coronavirus death toll crossed 13,000 and factories were shut in worst-hit Italy after another single-day fatalities record. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by SANJAY KANOJIA,JEWEL SAMAD,PUNIT PARANJPE,DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Migrant Crisis

CHANDIGARH, INDIA - MAY 27: Migrants gathered to register for Shramik Special trains at Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET) at Sector 26 on May 27, 2020 in Chandigarh, India. (Photo by Ravi Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
CHANDIGARH, INDIA - MAY 27: Migrants gathered to register for Shramik Special trains at Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET) at Sector 26 on May 27, 2020 in Chandigarh, India. (Photo by Ravi Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - MARCH 30: Migrant workers walk on the Mumbai Nashik highway with their families as they return to their villages, during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on March 30, 2020 in Mumbai, India.  (Photo by Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - MARCH 30: Migrant workers walk on the Mumbai Nashik highway with their families as they return to their villages, during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), on March 30, 2020 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Schools Crisis

CHANDIGARH, INDIA - MAY 27: Parents protesting outside Shishu Niketan Model Sr. Sec. School in Sector 22 against the schools demand for fees during lockdown period, on May 27, 2020 in Chandigarh, India. The parents say no online classes have been held during lockdown. (Photo by Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
CHANDIGARH, INDIA - MAY 27: Parents protesting outside Shishu Niketan Model Sr. Sec. School in Sector 22 against the schools demand for fees during lockdown period, on May 27, 2020 in Chandigarh, India. The parents say no online classes have been held during lockdown. (Photo by Keshav Singh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Sonu Sood

Elephant Tragedy

Appreciation for COVID warriors

NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 22: People throng to their balconies and streets in a show of appreciation for those engaged in providing essential services to tackle the coronavirus, at Arjun Nagar, on March 22, 2020 in New Delhi, India. A country stalked by an eerie silence came alive, suddenly, at 5pm. Sounds of clapping and beating utensils rang out of residential areas, houses and high-rises, lifting the sombre Sunday mood. Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modis appeals, citizens across the country came out of their homes and in their balconies, clapping, beating utensils and even ringing bells as a mark of solidarity with health officials and emergency workers who are working tirelessly in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - MARCH 22: People throng to their balconies and streets in a show of appreciation for those engaged in providing essential services to tackle the coronavirus, at Arjun Nagar, on March 22, 2020 in New Delhi, India. A country stalked by an eerie silence came alive, suddenly, at 5pm. Sounds of clapping and beating utensils rang out of residential areas, houses and high-rises, lifting the sombre Sunday mood. Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modis appeals, citizens across the country came out of their homes and in their balconies, clapping, beating utensils and even ringing bells as a mark of solidarity with health officials and emergency workers who are working tirelessly in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Locust Attack

Swarms of locust attack in the walled city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, Monday, May 25, 2020. More than half of Rajasthans 33 districts are affected by invasion by these crop-munching insects.(Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Swarms of locust attack in the walled city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, Monday, May 25, 2020. More than half of Rajasthans 33 districts are affected by invasion by these crop-munching insects.(Photo by Vishal Bhatnagar/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Rhea Chakraborty Arrest

MUMBAI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 6: Rhea Chakraborty reached NCB office from her residence at Juhu Tara road, on September 6, 2020 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
MUMBAI, INDIA - SEPTEMBER 6: Rhea Chakraborty reached NCB office from her residence at Juhu Tara road, on September 6, 2020 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

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Ram Mandir Verdict

NEW DELHI, INDIA  NOVEMBER 9: Mahant Dharam Dass and lawyers celebrate after the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid case, on November 9, 2019 in New Delhi, India.  The Supreme Court on Saturday cleared the way for a temple to be built at the disputed plot of land in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid stood before its demolition, and which Hindus consider to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. Supreme Court orders that Central Govt within 3-4 months formulate scheme for setting up of trust and hand over the disputed site to it for construction of temple at the site and a suitable alternative plot of land measuring 5 acres at Ayodhya will be given to Sunni Wakf Board. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA NOVEMBER 9: Mahant Dharam Dass and lawyers celebrate after the Supreme Court verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid case, on November 9, 2019 in New Delhi, India. The Supreme Court on Saturday cleared the way for a temple to be built at the disputed plot of land in Ayodhya where the Babri Masjid stood before its demolition, and which Hindus consider to be the birthplace of Lord Ram. Supreme Court orders that Central Govt within 3-4 months formulate scheme for setting up of trust and hand over the disputed site to it for construction of temple at the site and a suitable alternative plot of land measuring 5 acres at Ayodhya will be given to Sunni Wakf Board. (Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 5:   Devotees watch Narendra Modi perform Bhoomi Pujan for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhyatelecasted live at VHP Office at RK Puram on August 5, 2020 in New Delhi, India. The grand celebrations for the bhoomi pujan started at 8 am and Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed the Ayodhya Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan at the auspicious time of 12:40 pm.  (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - AUGUST 5: Devotees watch Narendra Modi perform Bhoomi Pujan for the construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhyatelecasted live at VHP Office at RK Puram on August 5, 2020 in New Delhi, India. The grand celebrations for the bhoomi pujan started at 8 am and Prime Minister Narendra Modi performed the Ayodhya Ram Mandir bhoomi pujan at the auspicious time of 12:40 pm. (Photo by Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Hathras Rape Incident and Backlash

Activists of the Indian Youth Congress took out a candle light march at Jantar Mantar demanding justice for the Hathras gang-rape victim, who died at a government hospital in Delhi last month, on October 12, 2020 in New Delhi, India. The candle light march was also joined by Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil. (Photo by Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Activists of the Indian Youth Congress took out a candle light march at Jantar Mantar demanding justice for the Hathras gang-rape victim, who died at a government hospital in Delhi last month, on October 12, 2020 in New Delhi, India. The candle light march was also joined by Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil. (Photo by Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
HATHRAS, INDIA  OCTOBER 2: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien manhandled by UP police personnel while heading to meet the Hathras gang rape victims family, on October 2, 2020 in Hathras, India. A four-member delegation of the Trinamool Congress, led by senior party leader Derek OBrien, was on Friday stopped by the police from going to the village of the 19-year-old gang-rape victim in Hathras of Uttar Pradesh to meet her family. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
HATHRAS, INDIA OCTOBER 2: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien manhandled by UP police personnel while heading to meet the Hathras gang rape victims family, on October 2, 2020 in Hathras, India. A four-member delegation of the Trinamool Congress, led by senior party leader Derek OBrien, was on Friday stopped by the police from going to the village of the 19-year-old gang-rape victim in Hathras of Uttar Pradesh to meet her family. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Finance Minister Announces Relief Package

NEW DELHI, INDIA  MAY 16: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the media during the fourth briefing on Centres economic stimulus package in the presence of her team, in National Media Center, on May 16, 2020 in New Delhi, India. After having announced economic package and relief measures for farmers, migrant labourers, MSMEs, SMEs, NBFCs, MFIs and other categories, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today released the fourth tranche of her 20 lakh crore economic package today with a focus on structural reforms. Sitharaman announced structural reforms in coal, minerals, defence production, airports and civil aviation, power distribution, space and atomic energy. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA MAY 16: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses the media during the fourth briefing on Centres economic stimulus package in the presence of her team, in National Media Center, on May 16, 2020 in New Delhi, India. After having announced economic package and relief measures for farmers, migrant labourers, MSMEs, SMEs, NBFCs, MFIs and other categories, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today released the fourth tranche of her 20 lakh crore economic package today with a focus on structural reforms. Sitharaman announced structural reforms in coal, minerals, defence production, airports and civil aviation, power distribution, space and atomic energy. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

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Farmer Agitation over Reforms

NEW DELHI, INDIA  DECEMBER 15: An overview of the Singhu Border protest site where farmers are camped in protest against new farm laws, near Delhi, on December 15, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Thousands of farmers have gathered on Delhis borders since November 26 to protest against the three contentious laws. They are protesting the three legislation The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA DECEMBER 15: An overview of the Singhu Border protest site where farmers are camped in protest against new farm laws, near Delhi, on December 15, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Thousands of farmers have gathered on Delhis borders since November 26 to protest against the three contentious laws. They are protesting the three legislation The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

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