Hours before the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced Monday midnight, Channi Anand had gathered his family in front of his laptop in his Jammu home. “My son Abhay asked me if I was expecting an award. I told him there must be something, because I’d been asked by the office to watch the announcement with my family,” he said.
When he heard his name, along with his colleagues from the Associated Press (AP), Dar Yasin and Mukhtar Khan, being announced, tears of disbelief rolled down his face. “It’s something I could only dream of,” said Anand, who has been associated with AP for two decades.
The three photographers from AP were recognised for their work in the Feature Photography category, for their “striking images on life” in Jammu and Kashmir after the state’s special status was revoked.
Joining the trio are Reuters photographers Anushree Fadnavis and Adnan Abidi who, along with their colleagues Tyrone Siu, Ammar Awad, Willy Kurniawan, Leah Millis, Athit Perawongmetha, Thomas Peter, Kai Pfaffenbach, Jorge Silva and Susana Vera, were awarded the Pulitzer in the Breaking News Photography category for their coverage of the citizens’ protests that rocked Hong Kong last year.
Speaking about one of the award-winning images, Fadnavis told The Indian Express, “We started following the anti-government protesters, who were running from the police after holding a protest at Hong Kong International Airport. They decided to reach a metro station and disrupt movement of subway trains. On the way, they started blocking roads. It was then that I saw it was about to rain, and people were trying to get to the airport through the blockades with their luggage. I saw people getting off their cars and walking, some showing their support for the protesters. I took this picture to show the hardship faced by people in the wake of the protest.”
She added, “It’s very humbling and overwhelming to be a part of the team that won the award. The feeling hasn’t sunk in yet.”
The award-winning pictures by Yasin and Khan include those of a house blown up during an encounter with militants, the clock tower in Srinagar enclosed by barbed wire, villagers grieving over the body of a 14-year-old boy who was taken hostage by militants, and an elderly man sitting on a shop-front in curfewed Srinagar. A picture from Jammu, by Anand, featured a member of the paramilitary personnel sitting in a maize field to watch the movement across the international border.
After the prize was announced, Yasin thanked his colleagues, friends and brothers. “I would just like to say thank you for standing by us always. It’s an honour and a privilege beyond any we could have ever imagined…” tweeted Yasin, a computer engineer-turned-photojournalist. A resident of Srinagar old city, Yasin is the winner of the 2019 Yannis Behrakis International Photojournalism Award in Athens. A two-time recipient of the Ramnath Goenka Award, he has won a dozen international and national awards including POYi (Pictures of the Year International), the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar Award and the China Press Photo contest.
Khan, too, took to Twitter to say, “Dear colleagues and friends I just want to say Thank you and that this award @PulitzerPrizes [is] an honor for us. I could never have imagine in my life time. It could have also been impossible without my family — both at home and AP…” A resident of Fatehkadal in Srinagar, Khan has worked with AP for 19 years. He won the Commonwealth Photography Award in 2003 and Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar Award in 2015.