’s Aishwarya Iyer along with The Wire’s Ismat Ara won the Human Rights and Religious Freedom Young Journalist of the Year Award on Sunday.

The honours were a part of the annual Human Rights and Religious Freedom Journalism Awards that were announced by the Indian American Muslim Council, an advocacy group based in Washington, United States.

Newslaundry’s Akanksha Kumar won in the Best Text Reporting on Human Rights & Religious Freedom category, The News Minute’s Priyanka Thirumurthy and The Caravan’s Shahid Tantray won the Best Video Story on Human Rights and Religious Freedom Award and The New Issue Magazine UK’s Syed Shahriyar received the honour for Best Photo Story on Human Rights and Religious Freedom.

Article 14 and The Mooknayak won the award for Best Media Organisation Covering Human Rights and Religious Freedom Journalism.

Detailed reporting on the anti-conversion laws, persecution of Muslims during the Covid-19 pandemic and human rights violations in Kashmir were among the stories that earned the top honours, the Indian American Muslim Council said.

“We constituted these awards to highlight stories and amplify voices that are often missing from the mainstream/elite media,” said Syed Ali, the president of Indian American Muslim Council. “This year our jury chose winners in the extremely troubled times when media in India is under immense pressure from the ruling government.”

Ali added that the courage shown by journalists while reporting on the minorities and marginalised communities of India was commendable.

American journalist Amy Goodman, who hosts independent news programme Democracy Now! expressed concerns about India’s shift towards authoritarianism.

“When powerful forces seek to suppress the truth, to censor information, the practice of journalism becomes even more difficult and all too often dangerous,” Goodman said in her keynote address.

British journalist Yvonne Ridley said that India was becoming dangerous for journalists who are critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party government. “HRRF Journalism awards give respite and hope to Indian journalists who work fearlessly on the ground delivering the unpalatable truth,” Ridley added.

Aishwarya Iyer’s award-winning pieces: