SRINAGAR: A moment of great pride for entire Kashmir, but especially for the valley’s journalists, dawned on Tuesday with the news that three sons of the soil had bagged the Pulitzer Prize, the world’s most famous prize in journalism, for feature photography.
The Pulitzer jury chose the trio of Mukhtar Khan, Yasin Dar and Channi Anand, who work with the Associated Press (AP), for the striking images they captured of life in Jammu and Kashmir since August last year, when unprecedented restrictions were imposed by the government of India after abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
All the three photojournalists have been in the profession for more than two decades. Channi, who lives in Jammu, started his career at the age of 26 with a local daily. A Class 12 pass, Channi soon started to randomly send photos to AP, which were picked up by the agency. Five years ago, he became its staffer.
“I wanted to join the Indian Army in my childhood, but today I feel fulfilled. All the hard work has paid off. The credit goes to my wife for being supportive at all times,” Channi told Kashmir Reader.
Son of an army clerk, Channi lives with his wife and two children.
Dar’s entry into journalism happened in 2004. Since then, he has been covering Kashmir for AP. In 2017, Dar, while he was capturing a women students’ protest, personally helped a female student who had fainted on the streets.
Mukhtar joined journalism in 2000, and has since been capturing images of Kashmir’s politics, conflicts, and people’s lives.
The award has come not long after three Kashmiri journalists were booked under serious criminal charges by the J&K Police. The charges led to outrage across the world.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah congratulated the trio on their achievement. Senior journalists were in a celebratory mood all day. The prize has come to Kashmir for the first time.
Mirza Waheed, fiction writer and journalist, tweeted an ecstatic: “Kashmir has a Pulitzer Prize!” Veteran journalist Yousuf Jameel wrote, “It is a proud moment for all in our tribe across Jammu and Kashmir and beyond.”
The Pulitzer Prize is handed out every year since 1917, when newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer established the prize in his will.