Kashmiris who received international recognition for their work in Journalism, Literature and Human Rights

The announcement by Dana Canedy, the administrator of the Pulitzer prizes came late Monday via her youtube stream, being deferred by two weeks due to the COVD-19 crises.

Two Kashmiri and one Jammu based journalists had bagged the 2020 Pulitzer for ‘the striking’ images of life in Kashmir after the scrapping of Article 370 which granted Kashmir autonomy.

The news was broken online by another journalist who tweeted “Pulitzer is home”, and instantly, the tweet became viral.

It was retweeted some hundred times and liked a few thousand times by morning.

The news had taken Kashmiri social media in a winsome awe. The success was celebrated as an immanent victory by every Kashmiri and was considered a euphemistic moral win of press freedom by many notable Kashmiri journalists, authors and activists.

However this is not the first time that Kashmiri Journalists or activists have earned international accolades for depicting the life in Kashmir, either in their stories, their novels, their photographs, through fiction and poetry or through their exhaustive works in the onerous field of Human rights.

Below is a short compilation of such Kashmiris who have been honoured by various international corridors for their contribution to the field of journalism, literature and human-rights:

Parveena Ahangar: Often called the ‘Iron Lady’ of Kashmir, the name has become synonymous to strength and valour and to Kashmir itself. She is the co-founder of “Association of the parents of the disappeared persons” an international organisation fighting for the rights and return of all those who were the victims of “enforced disappearances”.

She started her struggle in 1990 when her son, Javaid Ahanger, went missing. She has been a voice to thousands of kin of all those who went missing in the conflict torn region of Jammu and Kashmir.

Her defence of human rights and her social works towards the victim families won her a Nobel prize nomination in year 2005.

Awards: Nobel Prize Nomination in 2005, Prestigious Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize in 2017. She was nominated by the Indian media Channel CNN IBN for an award which she rejected on account of the deceitful approach by Indian media over the pain and tragedies of Kashmiris.

She has also been honoured to have delivered lectures in numerous international universities and human rights forums.

Agha Shahid Ali: Late. Agha Shahid Ali was a Kashmiri American Muslim. He is one of the most famous poets with a Kashmiri origin. Large portions of his 9 collections of poetry revolve around a Kashmir centric theme.

Apart form poetry he also wrote multiple books on literary criticism and translated works of Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

Awards: Pushcart Prize, 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship, Bread Loaf Writer Conference Fellowship, Ingram-Merrill Foundation Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.

The University of Utah Press awards the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize annually “in memory of a celebrated poet and beloved teacher.”

Parvez Imroz: He is a human rights lawyer and defender, president of the Jammu and Kashmir coalition of civil society that is an alliance of various civil lobbies of Kashmir that document rights violations and provide legal assistance to victims.

He is also convener the of ‘International People’s tribunal on Human rights and Justice in Indian administered Kashmir.’

Awards: Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights prize (Nelson Mandela got first Ludovic Trarieux Human Rights prize in 1985 and Parvez Imroz got 11th in 2006 in France.)

In 2017 he was awarded the Thorolf Rafto Memorial Prize for Human Rights along with Parveena Ahanger.

Mirzha Waheed: He is an author of three Novels: ‘The Collaborator’, ‘Book of Gold Leaves’ and ‘Tell Her Everything’. He is a regular columnist at the BBC, The Guardian, Granta, Guernica (magazine), Al Jazeera English and The New York Times.

Most of his works are Kashmir centric and are known to portray Kashmir in the most poignant way.

Awards: 2011 “Books of the Year” for The Collaborator in The Telegraph, New Statesman, Business Standard and Telegraph India, 2011 Guardian First Book Award finalist for The Collaborator, 2012 Desmond Elliott Prize long-list for The Collaborator, 2016 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature shortlist for The Book of Gold Leaves.

Muzamil Jaleel: He is a senior journalist and editor based in New Delhi. He has worked in London for the Guardian, The Observer, and The Times newspapers.

Awards: Awarded the Kurt Shrock Award for International Journalism (local reporting category) for Kashmir reportage in 2005 – an award administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Awarded IFJ (International Federation of Journalists) Journalism For Tolerance Prize for Excellence in Journalism, Combating Racism and Discrimination for South Asia in 2002.

Khurram Parvez: He is a prominent human rights activist from Kashmir. He is the chairperson of Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) and program coordinator of Jammu Kashmir coalition of civil society.

Awards: 2006 Reebok Human Rights award, 2016 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award.

Yusuf Jameel: He is a Kashmir journalist covering the conflict for more than 30 years. Jameel has written for BBC News, Reuters, Time, Voice of America, the New York Times, and the Indian newspapers Deccan Chronicle and the Asian Age.

Awards: 1996 International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 2006, he won the first Best Journalist/Writer award instituted by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), 2019-2020 PEN award.

Mukhtar Khan: He is a Kashmiri photo-journalist currently working for Associated press. He has extensively covered the Kashmir conflict, the South Asian earthquake and the floods in Kashmir.

Awards: 2015 Atlanta Photojournalism Award, 2020 Pulitzer.

Dar Yasin: Dar in a Kashmiri photo-journalist who has been covering Kashmir as well as international news. He is currently working for the Associated Press. He has to his credit the coverage of opening of the bus route between the divided parts of Kashmir, the Afghan war and Afghan refugee crises and the Rohingya crises.

Awards: He was part of the AP team that won Hal Boyle Award & Robert F. Kennedy Award for Rohingya crisis coverage. He also won the 2019 Yannis Behrakis International Photojournalism Award and the 2020 Pulitzer.

Ahmer Khan: Ahmer is a freelancer who has written for many reputed international publications like New York times, The Guardian etc.

Awards: 2018 Lorenzo Natalie Prize, 2019 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize, 2020 Human Rights press award.

Shahnaz Bashir: Shahnaz is a novelist and academician from Kashmir who has two novels i.e The Half mother (2014) and Scattered Souls (2016) to his pen. He received critical acclaim for his first novel. He is recipient of many local awards along with the 2018 Swiss Arts Council Writer’s Residency Award.

Showkat Nanda: Showkat Nanda is a photojournalist, documentary photographer and photography teacher from Kashmir. His work is mainly based upon the social and cultural ramifications of the Kashmir conflict.

Award: He has been awarded Fulbright fellowship and a Magnum Emergency Fund grant.

Shazia Yousuf:  Shazia Yousuf is an award winning independent Journalist from Kashmir who has done her masters in print and multimedia journalism from Emerson College Boston, USA.

Awards: She bagged the prestigious PII-ICRC award in 2015. She was awarded in the humanitarian subject category by Press Institute of India- International Committee of Red Cross.

Baba Umar: Umar currently lives in Turkey. He has worked as a principal correspondent for Tehelka, as a journalist for Al Jazeera and as writer and editor for Turkey based TRT world.

Awards:International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC – Geneva) Humanitarian Reporting Award.

Ashwaq Masoodi: She is a journalist who has worked extensively on gender and marginalized communities for Live Mint magazine. She has written for The Atlantic magazine, Guernica magazine as well as The New York Times City Room Blog.

Awards: She was awarded the highly prestegious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 2019. Nieman Foundation for Journalism announced that Ashwaq will join 26 other Nieman Fellows for the class of 2020.

Malik Sajid: He is a graphic novelist based in Srinagar, Kashmir. He was honoured as Verve Story Teller of The Year award for his debut novel ‘Munnu’. The novel was made a part of the permanent collection (Artists’ Books) at the Brooklyn Museum in New York

Rafiq Maqbool: He is a photojournalist working for Associated press.

Awards: 2010 Finalist Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, 3rd prize World Press Photo Contest.

Altaf Qadri: He is a former photographer at European Pressphoto Agency, and currently works for Associated Press.

Awards: 1st prize World Press Photo Contest, and honourable mention in 2013.

Aijaz Rahi: He is former photographer at daily Greater Kashmir and currently works at the Associated Press.

Awards: 3rd prize World Press Photo Contest, Spot News.

Ather Zia: She is a published author and columnist. Ather Zia is an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department and Gender Studies Program at University of Northern Colorado Greeley. Ather has been a journalist with BBC World service.

Awards: In 2013 she was awarded for ethnographic poetry on Kashmir by the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (American Anthropological Association).

Basharat Peer: Basharat Peer is an author and journalist. Curfewed Night, his first book, won top literary awards in India. He has worked as an editor at Foreign Affairs and written for The Guardian, New Statesman, and Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. He is currently an Opinion editor at The New York Times (International).

Awards: He was awarded prestigious fellowship by the Open Society Institute in New York, a George Soros initiative.

By – Khawar Khan Achakzai

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