Three photojournalists from Jammu and Kashmir have been awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for their “striking images of life” in the valley. Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of the Associated Press won in the feature photography category. The news has thrilled the journalists in Jammu and Kashmir who see the award as a recognition of hard work and dedication of the journalists working in J&K. Right from early 90’s, the media has been one of the most challenging professions in J&K, particularly in Kashmir. Nearly 20 journalists were killed; scores were abducted, arrested and tortured; scores were beaten and thrashed while performing their professional duties; newspaper offices were bombed; newspaper publications were banned so on and so forth. Despite all these odds and threats, the journalists in Kashmir continued working. They would always be target of the wrath of the state as well as non-state forces as both wanted them to look at the situation, report and click it the way they wanted. However, the journalists stood the ground. They braved all the challenges and did their best not to compromise the ethics and basic principles of the journalism. That is why the Pulitzer to Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin has been celebrated by the local media.
It is not only the media, the people from all walks of life have congratulated these three photojournalists for their achievement. However, it is unfortunate that some leaders of the ruling BJP have tried to politicize the even because they have to score some political points over rival Congress. BJP’s Sambit Patra has a problem with the award because in citation Jammu and Kashmir has been referred to as “contested territory” so, as per Patra’s wisdom, the award is challenging the Indian stance of J&K being ‘integral part of India.’ Someone should have told the learned politician that the three photojournalists of J&K had submitted their work for consideration of the award. They are not the ones who drafted the citation. There work was so great that they stood tall in the entire world. Instead of hailing them, patting them on the back, spokesman of a party, that rules a mighty nation like India, tries to demonize the awardees. Posting the “citation”, he said, “The citation of the Pulitzer award to the three so called Indian journalists: Why did these journalists accept this award … An award is important or the sovereignty of your Nation is?” One feels sorry for a seasoned politicians who raises such naïve questions to target his award winning countrymen. One may ask him humbly, if by accepting an award with such a citation is challenging nation’s sovereignty, why do India attend all UN meetings? Doesn’t UN believe and repeatedly say that Jammu and Kashmir is a dispute?