For a dubious reason, India stood out at the 2022 Pulitzer Prizes award ceremony in New York on Thursday.
Sanna Irshad Mattoo, the first Kashmiri woman journalist to win a Pulitzer, was the only mediaperson prevented by a country from attending this year’s award ceremony. Sanna was prevented from flying out of New Delhi airport earlier this week although she had valid travel documents.
John Daniszewski, the co-chair of the 2022 cycle of the Pulitzer Prizes, said that Sanna’s exclusion was “emblematic of the challenges journalists face around the world”.
The official handle of the prizes tweeted Daniszewski’s comments: “This is petty, highly discriminatory… and emblematic of the challenges journalists face around the world.”
Earlier, Pulitzer Prizes administrator Marjorie Miller told the Voice of America: “(Sanna’s) absence due to the Indian government preventing her travel abroad will be noted.”
Miller added that Sanna was the only journalist prevented from attending the ceremony this time.
On Friday night, Sanna tweeted, uploading a picture of the Pulitzer certificate: “So unfair and unjust. I wasn’t allowed to receive the Pulitzer award… in person. #JournalismIsNotACrime.”
Sanna said in another tweet: “Indeed a proud moment. Congratulations team @Reuters. Missing Danish Siddique so much.”
Indian officials have not yet told Sanna why she was disallowed from travelling. Sanna and the others were awarded the Pulitzer for their role in Reuters’ coverage of India’s devastation last year during the second wave of Covid-19. Their photography “balanced intimacy and devastation, while offering viewers a heightened sense of place”, the Pulitzer board had said.
Other than Sanna, the late Danish Siddiqui and their Reuters colleagues Adnan Abidi and Amit Dave won the Pulitzer in the Feature Photography category. Siddiqui’s children Yunus, 6, and Sarah, 4, were at the award ceremony in New York on Thursday.
Siddiqui, who was already part of another Pulitzer-winning Reuters team for documenting the Rohingya crisis in 2018, was killed in Afghanistan in July last year. The latest Pulitzer Prizes were announced in May 2022.
Adrees Latif of Reuters pictures tweeted on Thursday: “Bittersweet moment @reuterspictures as Yunus & Sarah Siddiqui, kin of the late @dansiddiqui, got a standing ovation while accepting the 2022 Pulitzer for Feature Photography w/ @adnanabidi & @AmitDav46549614. @mattoosanna prevented from travelling abroad….”
Anushree Fadnavis, Pulitzer winner and Reuters photographer, tweeted: “You are missed forever @dansiddiqui. Congratulations to everyone and @adnanabidi @AmitDav. @mattoosanna should have been here but she was stopped from flying internationally at Delhi airport by the authorities.”
On Thursday, Miller, the Pulitzer Prizes administrator, told the winners: “Forever after, this honour will be attached to your name.”
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who tweeted about Kedarnath and Badrinath on Friday, had made no mention of the Pulitzer winners in public till Friday night.
A Twitter user called Shardo offered a peek into the probable mindset that prevented Sanna from leaving for the award ceremony.
The Twitter user replied to Miller: “A joke, I must say. An organisation which gives awards to terror supporters. To those who support genocide of Kashmiri Hindus and an organisation which gives award to those who publish gory photographs of mass cremation of Hindus. Yes this name will remain attached to your name.”