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Kashmiri Journalist’s Award Cancelled amid Right-Wing Pressure, Judges boycott event in solidarity with her

Pune, October 19: Safina Nabi, a Kashmiri journalist was shocked to find that the Maharashtra Institute of Technology-World Peace University (MIT-WPU) abruptly canceled her prestigious media award under pressure from “hatemongers”.

Nabi’s award-winning report, titled ‘The Half Widows of Kashmir,’ was originally published in the Scroll and was recognized in the category of ‘journalism that promoted empathy, understanding, and inclusivity in society.’ Her report highlighted the enduring struggles of the ‘half widows’ of Kashmir, the women who continue to be denied their property rights for decades after the disappearance of their husbands.

A seven-member jury, consisting of three MIT-WPU staff and four prominent media personalities, including Sunanda Mehta, resident editor of The Indian Express, Pune edition; Sandeep Adhwaryu, a cartoonist at The Times of India; Sanjeev Ratna Singh, head of the media school at Bennett University; and M.K. Venu, founding editor of The Wire, had unanimously selected Nabi’s story for the award.

Nabi was initially informed of her award on October 11 through a phone call and an email from Dhiraj Singh, Director of the Department of Media & Communication at MIT-WPU. Preparations were made for her travel to Pune, where the award presentation ceremony was scheduled.

However, on October 16, Nabi was told that her award was canceled, and there was no need to come for the ceremony. MIT-WPU staff told her that political pressure (from the right wing) had forced the university to withdraw the award and that there were concerns about Nabi’s safety at the event.

Nabi subsequently reached out to the jury members, who were equally taken aback by the cancellation, as they had not been informed. Following this revelation, the external jury members decided to boycott the event in solidarity with Nabi. The abrupt cancellation of Safina Nabi’s award has brought the spotlight back onto the challenges faced by Kashmiri journalists. MIT-WPU did not provide any official statement regarding the incident.

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