Masrat Zahra Wins Top Photojournalism Award

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Zahra was recently charged under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for her social media posts by the police in Kashmir. She is seen here at a protest in Srinagar. KO file photo

SRINAGAR: Masrat Zahra, a freelance photojournalist from Kashmir has won the 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism award from International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF).

Named in the honor of German photojournalist Anja Niedringhaus who was killed in Afghanistan in 2014, the prestigious award recognises the courageous work of women photojournalists working in difficult situations.

“It was a pleasant shock for me. When I heard the news, I couldn’t believe myself. I am happy that my work has finally been recognised. Winning an award like this is an acknowledgement of the circumstances in which journalists work in places like Kashmir. It is a tribute to all those journalists in Kashmir, who risk their lives, face continuous threats,” Zahra said.

Zahra was recently charged under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for her social media posts by the police in Kashmir. Under this stringent law, a person could be jailed for up to seven years. Her work focuses on people who have been going through immense sneering because of the conflict in Kashmir.

An IWMF jury member while commenting on Zahra’s work said that the story behind her work lends a closeness to her subjects, which requires a huge level of courage.

IWMF said in a statement, “We are deeply honoured to recognise the work of Masrat and others. Our winner and honourees this ear exhibited stunning emotion, dynamic composition and most significantly, put themselves in direct contact with those experiencing immediate suffering, at immense personal risk.

Taking to micro blogging website Twitter, Zahra wrote that she was happy that her work has finally been recognized.

“After thanking Almighty, I would like to say a big thank to my mentor, Showkat Nanda, for his guidance, love and care. When I applied for the award earlier this year, he was there at every single step – from helping me prepare my application to editing and sequencing my work. He has truly revolutionised photojournalism education in Kashmir and inspired hundreds like me. Thank you, Baba. I owe this to you!,” she Tweeted.

Zahra also expressed her gratitude to her family, friends, colleagues and everyone who supported her when she was going through difficult times.

“I dedicate this award to the unshakable courage of my fellow journalists of Kashmir, especially women reporters and photographers,” she said.

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