Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hindutva campaign: Pune institute revokes award for Kashmiri journalist amidst last-minute

Kashmiri journalist Safina Nabi, who had been chosen as the recipient of a media award established by the journalism school at Pune’s Maharashtra Institute of Technology-World Peace University (MIT-WPU), received an unexpected disappointment when her award was abruptly revoked just before the scheduled presentation ceremony at the institute.

The university’s administration revoked the award in response to pressure from Hindutva groups, and the institute officials remained silent regarding the incident.

Nabi’s article, titled ‘The Half Widows of Kashmir,’ featured in Scroll, had been chosen the winner in the category of ‘journalism that promoted empathy, understanding and inclusivity in society’. The piece shed light on the enduring struggles faced by the ‘half widows’ of Kashmir, who have been deprived of their property rights for decades following the forced disappearance of their husbands.

Nabi was informed about her award win through a phone call and an email from Dhiraj Singh, the Director of the Department of Media & Communication at MIT-WPU, on October 11th.

Nabi told The Wire news website that the institute had made travel arrangements for her to attend the award ceremony. She was scheduled to depart for Pune on October 17. Yet, on the afternoon of October 16, an unidentified faculty member contacted her, conveying the award’s cancellation, telling her to cancel her travel plans to Pune.

She said: “I was supposed to travel on the 17th of October and on the 16th of October around 2 o’clock in the afternoon I received a call on the other side of the phone was a woman who introduced herself as one of the faculty members of the university. She mentioned that they are canceling my award and I am not supposed to travel now. When I asked for the reasons she mentioned that there is a lot of political pressure that they are facing for awarding me. She also said it would be highly risky for me to travel or be present at the venue.”

Nabi subsequently contacted Rajeesh Kumar, an assistant professor at the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, seeking confirmation, as he had been her primary point of contact throughout the process.

“He called me back sometime and confirmed that they were actually canceling my award and he was sorry. I requested they put all of this over email and give me the reasons as to why are they doing so. After this Dhiraj Singh called me who mentioned the same thing and didn’t agree to put anything over email. They were just calling me and giving me the reason that there is a lot of political pressure on the university not to felicitate me,” she said to The Wire.

The jury too had not been told about the cancellation.

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