Sunday, October 23, 2022

“Heartbroken,” says Kashmiri photojournalist India stopped from travelling to receive Pulitzer

On 20 October, the 2022 class of Pulitzer Prize winners gathered at Columbia University’s Low Library for a dinner ceremony celebrating their awards. 2021-2022 Pulitzer Prize Board Co-Chair John Daniszewski noted the conspicuous absence of 2022 Feature Photography winner Sanna Irshad Mattoo.

Mattoo, a Kashmir-based photojournalist, was stopped from travelling to New York to receive her award by Indian immigration authorities on 18 October.

“It was a dream,” Sanna told Maktoob, sharing her anticipation to “live the moment” to accept the most prestigious award in journalism. She is back in Kashmir, home to dozens of journalists who complain of arbitrary actions from Indian authorities for reporting critical stories.

Daniszewski characterized the decision as “petty, highly discriminatory […] and emblematic of the challenges journalists face around the world.”

Mattoo had won the Pulitzer Prize in feature photography for coverage of the coronavirus crisis in India along with Reuters photographers Adnan Abidi, Amit Dave, and the late Danish Siddiqui.

The 28-year-old photojournalist was travelling with her colleagues when she was stopped at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

“We have not been offered an official explanation as to why she has not been allowed to leave the country, but we believe that journalists should be able to travel freely,” Reuters said in a statement.

23/10/22 Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

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