Kashmiri Pulitzer Prize winners caught in political debate

Srinagar/ Delhi (IANS) A political controversy erupted on Tuesday between the Congress and the BJP over the Pulitzer Prize awarded to three photojournalists from Jammu and Kashmir.

This year, the US-based Pulitzer Prize for best feature photography category has been awarded to three Associated Press (AP) photographers -- Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin from Kashmir and Channi Anand from Jammu -- "for their striking images of life in the contested territory of Kashmir as India revoked its independence, executed through a communications blackout".

The awards are given each year in 21 categories and entries are accepted from all over the world.

Senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi greeted the three winners from J&K through his comments on Twitter, saying, "Congratulations to Indian photojournalists Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand for winning a Pulitzer Prize for their powerful images of life in Jammu & Kashmir. You make us all proud."

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BJP spokesman Sambit Patra was quick to react as he criticised Rahul Gandi for praising the Kashmiri photojournalists, saying that the pictures they had been awarded for depicted anti-India sentiments in Kashmir.

"Dear @RahulGandhi ji. You congratulated Mr Dar who received the Pulitzer award today for photography. One of the photographs is enclosed here with. The caption mentions "Indian Occupied Kashmir. Mr Rahul, is Kashmir an integral part of India?" Patra asked.

The controversy did not remain restricted to the spat between Rahul Gandhi and Sambit Patra only.

Many news channels aired lengthy debates on whether the awards should have been given to the two Kashmiri photojournalists, Dar and Mukhtar, in particular.

The Pulitzer Prize, awarded every year for achievements in journalism, literature and art in 21 categories, comprises a certificate and a $15,000 cash award.
The award was established in 1917 by the provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer who had made a fortune as a newspaper publisher. The award is administered by the Columbia University.

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