PULITZER prize for feature photography for three J&K photo-journalists is a recognition of the merit of Kashmir journalism by the world. It has put Kashmir journalism on global map. Three recipients Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand deserved the honour for their great images that reflected the situation in the Kashmir valley during the lockdown following the revocation of Article 370 in August last. Kashmir was under security blockade and communication blackout during the period. But despite that Kashmiri journalists were out on the streets discharging their professional duty. They covered the extraordinary situation for the world at great personal risk.
Photographers through their images gave the world a feel of what was happening on the ground. Among them were three Pulitzer recipients who continued their work undaunted by the impossible situation. The Kashmir they captured is unfiltered and unmediated by the words or a fleeting video and their implicit and explicit politics. People got to see and experience the situation in Kashmir like it is, not how it has to be seen and experienced. They confronted the state’s narrative with its biggest challenge. They took the viewer into the lanes and bylanes of Srinagar and further afield into the countryside, its moffussil villages, orchards and fields, into the homes and kitchens of the people, all under lockdown.
Like others the awardees had no means to send their images to their offices, so they would go to Srinagar airport and plead with flyers to carry their memory cards and flash drivers to New Delhi. Clicking the pictures or covering a story was also a big ordeal. It required getting past roadblocks and security checks. But journalists in Kashmir broke all the barriers to tell the story, using keyboards and cameras. Pictures were an unmediated reflection of the situation in Kashmir. It is their directness and raw quality that made the world notice the extent of crackdown in Kashmir. And now with the Pulitzer board honouring the three J&K photo-journalists, it is the recognition of not only the coverage of the lockdown but the decades of the toil of reporting Kashmir. Despite the unhelpful environment, Kashmiri journalists have produced an impressive body of work and in turn a historical record of the past three decades. So, Pulitzer for Yasin, Mukhtar and Anand is an occasion to savour and celebrate. And it is also an occasion to renew our commitment to highest standards of journalism.
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