Three Jammu and Kashmir-based photojournalists— Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand—working with news agency Associated Press (AP) have won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of Kashmir’s lockdown after the abrogation of Article 370 last year.
Despite India’s crackdown on Kashmir since last August, which included a sweeping curfew and internet shutdowns, these three photographers found ways to let outsiders see what was happening. They took cover in strangers’ homes, hid cameras in vegetable bags and snaked around roadblocks to bring us images of the harsh paramilitary action India had taken. They also had to persuade travellers to take their photo files out of the state and get them to AP’s office in New Delhi.
The Indian media, however, has referred to the photographers as ‘Indian’ as opposed to ‘Kashmiri’ causing an uproar online. Identity is a contentious topic in Kashmir where many of its people seek autonomy and liberation from Indian armed forces. Their people have faced great violence, surveillance and torture from the Indian government and its army so how and why would they claim to be Indians?
When journalists in Kashmir continue to face constant harassment and intimidation from Indian forces, it’s obnoxious for India to refer to them as ‘Indian’, let alone take pride in their work.