A Pulitzer for Kashmir

AP photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan, and Channi Anand awarded journalism’s most coveted prize

AwardImage Courtesy:telanganatoday.com

Kashmir based photographer Dar Yasin’s freeze frame of an airborne masked Kashmiri man participating in a protest, shows him mid air, ready to land feet first on the bonnet of an armoured vehicle of Indian security forces. In his fist is a stone. It is one of many such photos taken by Yasin, an Associated Press photographer based in Kashmir. He and his colleagues AP Photographers Mukhtar Khan (kashmir) and Jammu based Channi Anand have been awarded  the coveted Pulitzer prize, in feature photography category, for their work documenting the sights of Kashmir, which in fact has been under lockdown much before anyone had even heard of the Coronavirus. 

“Congratulations to Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and @daryasin of @AP. #Pulitzer”

The announcement was simple, and powerful.

The images captured by these award winning photojournalists taken during the clampdown on Kashmir, show a stark reality of razor barbed wires, empty streets, roadblocks, ruined buildings protests, funerals, anguished faces of men, women, and children. There are of course plenty of armed uniformed personnel on duty, and there are clouded, and open skies with startled birds taking wing. 

Some of these scenes are now newly familiar across the country due to the Covid19 lockdown and the everyday challenges that it has thrown up. However in Kashmir, these are happenings that photojournalists based there have been documenting for a long time, often they find themselves navigating dangerous situations as they continue to do their jobs. The fact that they have had no internet for months, and then only the bare minimum, adds to the challenges journalists from Kashmir face on a daily basis. 

The Pulitzer 2020 awarded to the three photojournalists has once again put the situation in Kashmir on the international scanner. The images they took as the clampdown intensified are once again being circulated, and studied. A bullet hole on the wall, a lone resident crossing a rickety walkway over freezing waters, are reminding everyone what the situation in the now Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, continues to be. 

As reported in the Associated Press itself, the three photographers have won a Pulitzer in feature photography section for images made during “India’s clampdown on Kashmir, where a sweeping curfew and shutdowns of phone and internet service added to the challenges of telling showing the world what was happening in the region of 7 million people.”

According to AP, the photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand “snaked around roadblocks, sometimes took cover in strangers’ homes and hid cameras in vegetable bags to capture images of protests, police and paramilitary action and daily life. Then they headed to an airport to persuade travelers to carry the photo files out with them and get them to AP’s office in New Delhi.” 

The winners themselves had a  modest response to the honour. “Thank you Colleagues, friends, brothers. I would just like to say thank you for standing by us always. It’s an honour and a privilege beyond any we could have ever imagined. It’s overwhelming to receive this honor.” said Dar as the news broke and messages congratulating them flooded social media. 

Then, the Associated Press photographer based in Indian Kashmir, then continued sharing news as he always does. 

“Thankyou everyone” posted Jammu based Channi Anand, who made a rare appearance on Twitter to accept the congratulatory messages  (

“It was a group entry that our office in New York had filed,” Dar was quoted by Kashmir Life. The portal shared a happy photo of Dar rejoicing with his family at home when the award was announced.

The three are being hailed for their achievement across social media platforms, and the award is being seen as one for “Indian journalism”

“Great news for Indian journalism at last! The Pulitzer Prize, journalism’s most prestigious award, has been won in 2020 by 3 Indian API photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand for their “striking images of life” in Kashmir after the Centre abrogated Article 370.” posted well known writer, and media personality, Pritish Nandy 

Of course there were the expected conspiracy theorists, mostly affiliated with the Right Wing ideology who dismissed the award. Predictably, this troll team also included some journalists. Not one of the award winners have responded to trolls of course. Kashmiri journalists say they are made of sterner stuff. The award winning works of the three Pulitzer winners speaks for itself.

It is also important to remember  Masrat Zahra, another photojournalist from Kashmir,  who was recently called for questioning by Cyber Police, Srinagar. She was charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for posting some of the photographs she had clicked from the region.

“It’s such a moment of pride for all of us that our @daryasin and @mukhtarap have been awarded Pulitzer Prize for their work in Kashmir done under difficult circumstances. Congratulations, keep up the great work. It’s the global recognition of ground reality in Kashmir.” she posted.






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