New Delhi/Washington: In a major controversy, the Pulitzer Prize board has questioned India's legitimacy over Kashmir, calling the Valley a "contested territory." While awarding the US based prize for best feature photography to three Associated Press (AP) photographers -- Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin from Kashmir and Channi Anand from Jammu it has congratulated them "for their striking images of life in the contested territory of Kashmir whose "independence" was revoked and "executed through a communications blackout".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 Rahul Gandhi lost no time in greeting the three winners on Twitter, saying, "Congratulations to Indian photojournalists for winning a Pulitzer Prize for their powerful images of life in Jammu & Kashmir. You make us all proud.
BJP spokesman Sambit Patra was quick to react as he criticised Gandhi, saying that the pictures they had been awarded for have depicted antiIndia sentiment. "Dear @RahulGandhi ji.
You congratulated Mr Dar who received the Pulitzer award for photography. One of the photographs is enclosed herewith. 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 Patra. Many news channels latched onto it and hosted marathon discussions on whether the awards should have been given to the two Kashmiri photojournalists, Dar and Mukhtar, in particular.
\Not just the wording of the award, the portfolio of pictures of the three photographers on the Pulitzer web site included one of a masked person attacking a police vehicle and another of masked people with variants of the Kashmir flag, besides photos of mourners and protesters.
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.