Dilnaz Boga wins AFP prize for work in Kashmir

Dilnaz Boga, an Indian photojournalist and reporter, has won the Agence France-Presse Kate Webb Prize for her courageous work in Indian-administered Kashmir, the AFP Foundation announced Wednesday.

dilnaz bogaBoga, 33, spent a year in Srinagar working for the respected news portal Kashmir Dispatch as well as a number of international publications and websites, the culmination of a decade covering the troubled region.

The Kate Webb Prize was launched in 2008 in honour of the legendary AFP correspondent in Asia who blazed a trail for women in international journalism.

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The prize recognises exceptional work produced by locally engaged Asian journalists operating in dangerous or difficult circumstances in the region.

Boga will receive a certificate and 3,000 euros ($4,200) in cash at a ceremony in Hong Kong.

"Covering Kashmir is tough enough for any journalist," said Eric Wishart, AFP’s regional director for the Asia-Pacific region.

"As a woman, Dilnaz endured difficult, male-dominated conditions in an extremely hostile environment to report on the human side of the Kashmir situation, particularly the impact on the youth," Wishart added.

Boga said monitoring the extent of the violence in all its forms is often difficult, especially when international human rights groups are barred from operating.

"Our stories manage to shed some light on the reality of those who have no voice," said Boga, who was educated in India and Australia.

Before working in Srinagar, Mumbai-based Boga earned a master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney with a dissertation on the psychological impact of human rights violations on children in Kashmir.

"India may be the world’s largest democracy but it still has a long way to go when it comes to respecting the civil liberties of its citizens and letting them exercise their right to life, education and free speech," she added.

The inaugural Kate Webb Prize was given in 2008 to Pakistani journalist Mushtaq Yusufzai for his reports from the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The 2009 prize was awarded to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, which was chosen for its fearless work in the deadliest country for reporters.

Webb, who died in 2007 at the age of 64, was one of the finest correspondents to have worked for AFP, earning a reputation for bravery while covering wars and other historic events in the Asia-Pacific region over a career spanning four decades.

She first made her name as a UPI correspondent in the Vietnam War prior to assignments in other parts of Southeast Asia as well as India and the Middle East with AFP.

The prize is administered by the AFP Foundation, a non-profit organisation created to promote higher standards of journalism worldwide, and the Webb family.

 

More About Dilnaz:

Dilnaz Boga is a journalist from Mumbai. She works for Srinagar-based website Kashmir Dispatch in Jammu and Kashmir. She has also worked for the Hindustan Times as Chief Copy Editor on the International Desk in Mumbai. Previously, she also worked for a few city-based newspapers, covering issues like health, women’s and children’s issues, human interest, civic, education and crime.

Dilnaz has also covered conflicts in Kashmir, the North-East, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra for several publications. She completed her BA in English and Psychology and her MA in English Literature from Mumbai University.

In July 2004, Dilnaz completed her MA in Peace and Conflict Studies with a distinction on her dissertation ‘Cycles of violence: The psychological impact of human rights violations on the children in Kashmir’ from the University of Sydney in Australia. The following year, she shot a documentary in Kashmir on the same subject titled Invisible Kashmir: The other side of Jannat (Heaven), which was screened at film festivals all over the world.

 

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Articles by Dilnaz Boga

Video: Children of Kashmir by Dilnaz Boga

  • Darius Khambatta

    Firstly congratulations to the lady.Having said that & having read her other articles i would like to say like any other journalist she has potrayed one side of the coin. Insurgency is a dirty game and is fought in a dirty way.The lines are blurred, the enemy cannot be seen.Of all civil conflicts fought in the world, the counter-insurgency campaign fought by the Indian armed forces are the most humane.Unlike the Americans, we dont use aerial weapons..and we dont press a button to wipe out a entire village.The targets are identified and engaged with great discretion.Operations are conducted with extreme care and at great peril to a soldiers life as he is not authorised to open fire till he himself comes under hostile fire..this means the all important initiative lies with the militant who as it is cannot be seen/identified. Concurrently the armed forces engages in positive interaction, runs free schools, holds free medical camps, sponsors children to study outside, organises free tours of the country, engages in humanitarian work, bulids model villages, provides free rations,solar lighting and micro-hydel projects for the people/villages/towns of Kashmir. I dont see Ms Dilnaz Boga projecting all this in her work. The Islamic militants(there are abt 400-600) in the valley, belonging to various tanzeems merge with the local population who willingly/unwillingly are compelled to provide support. The not so friendly neighbouring country on India’s western border provides active monetary support as well as weapons and training to these Jihadis. The dynamics of militancy varies from region to region, even within Kashmir- its way diffreent in Kupwara as it is in Shopian, Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag, Srinagar, Gurez,Lolab,Macchal,Keran, Uri, Pulwama etc..etc. The various ethnic groups of Kashmir are dramatically different..there r Kashmiris, Paharis, Gujjars, Sikhs not forgetting the Pandits.Aspirations of each community is at odds.In 1989 during the pogroms and mass killing of the Kashmiri Pandits..and entire race has been killed, murdered and driven out of their homeland.They have not yet returned.The Kashmiri Pandit has as much right to the land as their Muslim brethren.The Kashmir question cannot be resolved unless the pandits are rehabilitated. Water,electricity and other amenities are free in this state..other essential items & rations are heavily subsidised. This means other states/the centre/honest hardworking taxpayers are bearing the burden of expenditure for the ppl of Kashmir. But the population here now take it as a right. A Kashmiri is free to buy land and property anywhere in India..but an Indian cannot buy a house/land in Kashmir.Why?Does Ms Dilnaz know all this? I suspect like most journalists she has given a sympathetic ear to the very ppl who have blood on their hands(i.e. the sepratists) and like most media demonise the armed forces who are simply here doing their duty. The situation is much more complex,complicated and things arent what they seem on the surface.U cannot understand Kashmir by treading the tourist route of Srinagar-Gulmarg-Sonamarg-Pahalgam and back.Also the true picture isnt what is potrayed by what u see in downtown Srinagar which happen to be the most publicised as it is the most easily accessed by TV crews.Stone pelting is a highly organised business where the youth are paid upto Rs 200-400 per incident by the ‘Hurriyat’. These lads should be at school studying,but they r lured/coerced by the sepratists. Business comes to a standstill.Whose to blame, whose inciting these boys??If at all it is the very ppl who promise freedom that have the blood of these kids on their hands. U need to live,stay,work & understand Kashmir & Kashmiris at the grassroots level for years and then u might get an insight.Ask me, i know ..i’ve been here for the last ten years.However a brave effort by a brave lady.Kudos.

  • Barak Aga

    .
    Dear Darius,

    If you write the truth, speak the truth, you do not get awards.

    I had a Kashmiri Mohmeddan and a Pakistani as my colleagues. The former openly blamed Pakistan for destroying their lives in Kashmir.

    It is not just Hindus and Sikhs who are suffering the consequences of Islamic militancy in Kashmir. Muslims too are victims.
    Their children are confined to walled compounds, lest they become victims of a fire-fight.

    Terrorists use civilians as shields.

    Our Pakistani neighbours are like the WAPIZ back home, who cannot distinguish ethnicity from religion / faith.

    They talk of “Kashmiri” independence without realising that the term “Kashmiri” encompasses people of all faiths and ethnicities living in Kashmir.

  • Darius Khambatta

    @ Barak,
    If only the Kashmiris knew how the Pak army is conducting anti-terrorist operations in Swat & FATA against their own ppl.They use the works..helicopter gunships, fighter-bombers, artillery, tanks and all other sorts of heavy weapons.Entire villages harbouring or suspected..i repeat even suspected of harbouring militants have been razed to the ground. I dont think the Kashmiris ‘ll be too keen to be “liberated” by Pak if they cud see the real picture.
    From an all time high of 5000 militants in the mid 1990’s the figures today are down to 400-600 today in the valley.There is a elected goverment, a semblance of peace, municipal services, police and judiciary.How’s this been made possible? Its by relentless back breaking toil & sacrifice by the army.Even today the state and its police is not capable of handling the militants on their own. The only force willing to go into the high mountains & dense jungles to root out the terrorists from their hideouts is the armies CI Force & special forces. It takes days & days and endless hours of stealth, vigil, effort and man hours to result in a single success.
    Ms Dilnaz has seen only one side.The concept of the civillians”human suffering in a conflict zone” always garners sympathy in the cocktail circuit.When we potray a picture for the gullible public, it should always look at both sides of the coin..else it gives a wrong image.
    Undoubtedly i guess her aim was to bring out the human angle of ppl caught in the crossfire of a prolonged insurgency but her articles tend to demonise the armed forces for the troubles..thats whats wrong. She only needed to step in at Badami Bagh Cantt (Srinagar) and see the officers & men & the families and the civillians working there to know that the men(& women) in uniform are human too who are doing a difficult job under adverse conditions but who also have a great empathy & understanding for the tragedy that is Kashmir.
    No one wants peace more than the soldier for he knows what war & suffering is.

  • aam aadmi

    what an irony!!! She is a parsi, the same community that was persecuted out of Persia by islamists, and yet she writes for Dawn,a paki news paper, rubbishing(not criticizing) the land her ancestors have settled and flourished on.

  • aam aadmi

    what an irony!!! She is a parsi, the same community that was persecuted out of Persia by islamists, and yet she writes for Dawn,a paki news paper, rubbishing(not criticizing) the land her ancestors have settled and flourished on.

  • Jeroo_chothia

    Kudos to Dilnaz for her achievements and efforts. I truly pray that the young members of the Zoroastrian community do come up with their talents and shine out in society – just the way as our ancestors like JRD, Sam Maneckshaw, etc did and definitely not like the middle aged group who keeps looking at WAPIZ, Parsi Panchayat, and so on. Our concentration should be on development of our youth and not on various personal causes.

  • Jeroo_chothia

    Kudos to Dilnaz for her achievements and efforts. I truly pray that the young members of the Zoroastrian community do come up with their talents and shine out in society – just the way as our ancestors like JRD, Sam Maneckshaw, etc did and definitely not like the middle aged group who keeps looking at WAPIZ, Parsi Panchayat, and so on. Our concentration should be on development of our youth and not on various personal causes.