Kashmiri reporter Yusuf Jameel has received the second edition of an award set up in the memory of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was murdered in Bengaluru in September 2017. The announcement was made on Wednesday by two Indian centres of writers’ organisation PEN.
The inaugural “PEN Gauri Lankesh Award for Democratic Idealism” was given to cartoonist P Mahamood in September 2018. Jameel was given the 2019-2020 award for showing an “exemplary commitment to professional integrity and the ideals of democracy”. He “pioneered fearless journalism” in Jammu and Kashmir, the award citation said.
Jameel began his career with Srinagar-based Urdu daily newspaper Aftab in the early 1980s, and went on to work with The Telegraph, BBC, Reuters, Time, Voice of America and The Asian Age. “In the context of rising insurgency in the Kashmir valley in the late eighties and the nineties and the very complex conflict scenario that has evolved since, his work as a reporter pioneered fearless and candid journalism in Jammu and Kashmir,” read the award citation.
“As a print and radio journalist working in both Urdu and English languages for over three and a half decades, his work shows a deep level of social engagement and concern and has contributed immensely to the traditions of fair and courageous reportage,” the citation added.
The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh and is given to individuals or organisations whose work “reflects an abiding passion and courage towards advancing democratic culture in India”, PEN Delhi and PEN South India said.
Jameel’s last post on Twitter was published on August 4, 2019, a day before the government imposed an internet shutdown across Jammu and Kashmir and abrogated the erstwhile state’s special constitutional status. He has continued to report for Deccan Chronicle and Voice of America.
Jameel was the winner of the 1996 International Press Freedom Award given by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at her home in Bengaluru on the night of September 5, 2017. Unidentified men fired at least four shots at her before escaping by motorbike. A special investigation team of the Karnataka Police is investigating the murder.