India blocks Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer from traveling to US

Indian authorities have prevented a photographer from flying to the United States to receive her Pulitzer Prize, the young woman has learned, the latest example of journalists being banned from leaving the country.

Sanna Irshad Mattoo is one of four journalists working for Reuters news agency to have won the prestigious news photography award this year. The 28-year-old has won acclaim for her reporting on life in Indian Kashmir, a disputed and highly militarized Himalayan territory where a decades-old insurgency is raging.

“Cancelled without prejudice”

She was arrested by immigration services at New Delhi airport late Tuesday afternoon and prevented from boarding, while two of her colleagues were allowed to leave the country. Sanna Irshad Mattoo then tweeted a photo of her post that read “canceled without prejudice“. “I don’t know what to say…it was a unique opportunity for meSanna IrshadMattoo, who is also a member of the prestigious Magnum Foundation, told AFP.

Only I was arrested for no reason and the others were allowed to leave. Maybe it has something to do with me being Kashmiri“. This is the second time this year that the photographer has been prevented from leaving India. In July, she was similarly arrested at the same airport on her way to Paris for a book launch and to the Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles in southeastern France.

rebellion against the regime

India has sought to entrench its control over Kashmir, which is also claimed in full by neighboring Pakistan and is a constant source of tension between the two major nuclear-armed countries. Thousands of people have been killed there since the rebellion against Indian rule began in 1989, and more than half a million soldiers are permanently stationed in the area.

The government of Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the territory of its limited autonomy in 2019, and to prevent any revolt cut internet connections for months and locked up political leaders. Foreign journalists have been barred from Kashmir and local reporters based in the territory say they have been pressured to tone down their comments.

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