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Journalist dedicates award to colleagues in Kashmir

Ahmer Khan hailed his family, friends and colleagues after winning the AFP Kate Webb accolade.
Ahmer Khan hailed his family, friends and colleagues after winning the AFP Kate Webb accolade. AFP/Siddharth Bokolia

Freelance reporter Ahmer Khan dedicated his 2019 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize to his colleagues in the Kashmir journalist corps.

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Hailing their resilience, Khan added: "This award comes at a time when my fellow journalists in Kashmir have been harassed and stopped from performing their professional duties.

"Yet, they have stood their ground and continued to work without fear. This is a collective award.

"I want to express my gratitude to my fellow journalists, editors, friends, family and my mother for their constant support," Khan added. "Your support, love and motivation has kept me on the move."

Khan, 27, who has worked for RFI as well as The Guardian and the New York Times in the region, was honoured on Thursday for a series of video and written reports that illustrated the impact on locals in the Muslim-majority area of India's decision to strip Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status in August.

The country's Hindu-nationalist government imposed restrictions on movement and a communications blackout, virtually cutting the Himalayan region off from the outside world.

 

 

Decision

India insisted the move was aimed at bringing prosperity and peace to a region where tens of thousands of people have died in a decades-old separatist rebellion that India blames on Pakistan.

Despite curfews and a heavy security presence, Khan took to the streets with his camera to document the tensions, concerns and frustrations among the residents of Srinagar and other cities in Kashmir.

Unable to skirt the communications shutdown, he flew in and out of Delhi to file his stories.

Essence

Such enterprise and tenacity, the award committee decided, echoed the spirit of Kate Webb, one of AFP's finest correspondents in the Middle East and Asia up until her retirement in 2001. The prize was established in her honour in 2008, a year after her death at the age of 64.

"Reporting from Kashmir at this time has been extremely challenging for everyone, including the established foreign media," said AFP's Asia-Pacific regional director Philippe Massonnet.

"For an independent, local journalist those challenges have been far greater, and it is to Ahmer's enormous credit that he managed to provide accurate, high-quality journalism when it was so sorely needed."

Khan said he would give a portion of his 3,000 euro prize money to a Kashmiri photojournalist who was forced to do manual labour due to a communications blockade.

He added: "Thank you, @AFP and Webb family for recognising my work. I will continue to tell stories, without which, injustice will continue to place unnoticed."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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