Associated Press wins feature photography Pulitzer for Kashmir coverage
Photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand captured images of protests, police and paramilitary action and daily life in Kashmir.
But Associated Press (AP) photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand found ways to let outsiders see what was happening. Now, their work has been honoured with the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in feature photography.
Snaking around roadblocks, sometimes taking cover in strangers’ homes and hiding cameras in vegetable bags, the three photographers captured images of protests, police and paramilitary action and daily life — and then headed to an airport to persuade travellers to carry the photo files out with them and get them to the AP’s office in New Delhi.
Kashmiri Muslim devotees offer prayer outside the shrine of Sufi saint Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani in Srinagar, Dec. 9, 2019. The image was part of a series of photographs by Associated Press photographers which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. | Photo Credit: Mukhtar Khan
“It was always cat-and-mouse,” Mr. Yasin recalled on Monday. “These things made us more determined than ever to never be silenced.”
Mr. Yasin and Mr. Khan are based in Srinagar, Kashmir’s largest city, while Mr. Anand is based in the neighboring Jammu district.
Mr. Anand said the award left him speechless.
“I was shocked and could not believe it,” he said, calling the prize-winning photos a continuation of the work he’s been doing for 20 years with the AP.
An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier keeps vigil near the India-Pakistan border at Garkhal in Akhnoor, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) west of Jammu, India, Aug. 13, 2019. The image was part of a series of photographs by Associated Press photographers which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. | Photo Credit: Channi Anand
With communications shut down, these journalists had to find out about protests and other news by finding them in person. Mr. Khan and Mr. Yasin took turns roving the streets in and around the regional capital of Srinagar, Mr. Yasin said, facing mistrust from both protesters and troops. The journalists were unable to go home for days or even let their families know they were doing okay.
“It was very hard,” Mr. Khan said, but “we managed to file pictures”.
After spotting luggage-toting people walking toward the airport, he said, the photographers decided to ask travellers to serve as couriers. Mr. Yasin also recalled how a relative of his, who was also a photojournalist, had told him about delivering film rolls to New Delhi in person as the conflict in Kashmir raged in the 1990s.
A masked Kashmiri protester jumps on the bonnet of an armored vehicle of Indian police as he throws stones at it during a protest in Srinagar, May 31, 2019. The image was part of a series of photographs by Associated Press photographers which won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. | Photo Credit: Dar Yasin
The photographers thus went to the Srinagar airport and sought out strangers willing to carry memory cards and flash drives to New Delhi and call AP after landing in the Indian capital.
Some flyers declined, fearing trouble with the authorities, Mr. Yasin said. But others said yes and followed through. Most of the memory cards and drives arrived.
Mr. Yasin says their prize-winning work has both professional and personal meaning to him.
“It’s not the story of the people I am shooting, only, but it’s my story,” he said. “It’s a great honour to be on the list of Pulitzer winners and to share my story with the world.”
“This honor continues AP’s great tradition of award-winning photography,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt. “Thanks to the team inside Kashmir, the world was able to witness a dramatic escalation of the long struggle over the region’s independence. Their work was important and superb.”
Pulitzer finalists for breaking-news photography award
In a year when protests arose across the globe, AP photographers Dieu Nalio Chery and Rebecca Blackwell were Pulitzer finalists for the breaking-news photography award for their coverage of violent clashes between police and anti-government demonstrators in Haiti.
Protesters and passersby look at images of people said to have been injured or killed during the month-long protests calling for the resignation of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Oct. 15, 2019. The image was part of a series of photographs by Associated Press photographers which was named a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. | Photo Credit: Rebecca Blackwell
Bullet fragments hit Mr. Chery in the jaw while he documented the unrest. He kept taking pictures, including images of the fragments that hit him.
A protest against fuel shortages and demanding the resignation of President Jovenel Moise in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sept. 20, 2019. The image was part of a series of photographs by Associated Press photographers which was named a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. | Photo Credit: Dieu Nalio Chery
“All five of these photographers made remarkable, stunning images despite dangerous and challenging conditions, sometimes at great personal risk,” said AP Director of Photography David Ake. “Their dedication to getting up every morning and going out to tell the story is a testament to their tenacity. The result of their work is compelling photojournalism that grabbed the world’s attention.”
AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee called the Kashmir prize “a testament to the skill, bravery, ingenuity and teamwork of Dar, Mukhtar, Channi and their colleagues” and lauded Mr. Chery’s and Ms. Blackwell’s “brave and arresting work” in Haiti while many journalism outlets were focused elsewhere.
“At a time when AP’s journalism is of more value than ever to the world, these journalists’ courage and compelling storytelling show the absolute best of what we do,” Ms. Buzbee said.
The honor for the photographers is the AP’s 54th Pulitzer Prize. The news cooperative last won a Pulitzer last year for stories, photos and video on the conflict in Yemen and the ensuing humanitarian crisis.