Ahmer Khan. File/AFP
Gulf Today Report
Ahmer Khan, a 27-year-old freelancer journalist was named the winner of the 2019 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize on Thursday for his coverage in India-controlled Kashmir during Delhi's lockdown of the region.
Khan was honoured for a series of video and written reports that vividly illustrated the impact on locals in the area following India's decision to strip Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status in August.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.
The award, named after one of AFP's finest correspondents, recognises journalism by locally hired reporters in Asia operating in risky or difficult conditions.
The Indian government has imposed restrictions on movement and a communications blackout, virtually cutting the Himalayan region off from the outside world after recent tussle.
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.
Unable to skirt the communications shutdown, Ahmer flew in and out of Delhi to file his stories.
"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," he added.
Khan said on learning of his win: "This is a real honour, and a huge motivation to carry on my work with enthusiasm and determination."
"I want to dedicate this award to the courageous and resilient journalists from Kashmir who have been reporting in extremely difficult conditions for the past six months. This is a collective award."
The Kate Webb Prize, with a 3,000 euro ($3,400) purse, honours journalists working in perilous or difficult conditions in Asia, and is named after a crusading AFP reporter who died in 2007 at the age of 64, after a career covering the world's trouble spots.
The award, which in 2018 went to reporter Asad Hashim for his coverage of the plight of ethnic Pashtuns and blasphemy issues in his native Pakistan, is administered by AFP and the Webb family.
The prize will be formally presented at a ceremony in Hong Kong later this year.
The Editors Guild of India said the accusations against Zahra and Ashiq were a "gross misuse of power" meant to "strike terror into journalists."
Pakistan’s president has called on India to immediately lift all restrictions on people in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, ignoring opposition calls for Prime Minister Imran Khan to step down over his alleged bad governance.
Calling it “the hub of terrorism,’ India has dismissed Pakistan’s attempts to raise the Kashmir issue in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) after it had failed to get a hearing in the Security Council.
Sources familiar with the details of the accident said that it occurred on Monday afternoon, as a result of a malfunction in the bus's brakes, which led it to collide with a bridge, according to local media.
Mariam Al Kaabi, UAE Ambassador to the Arab Republic of Egypt and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the Arab League, represented the UAE during the signing ceremony.
They prayed to Allah Almighty to perpetuate the blessings of security and stability, and to revisit the fasting month with more goodness, progress, and prosperity for the UAE and its people.
Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter, “Today, I was briefed, accompanied by my brother, the President of the State, may God preserve him, on the ongoing preparations in the country to host the COP28 Conference of the Parties, in which 70,000 people from 198 countries are expected to participate. Our national team is ready. Protect the planet.”