News agency Associated Press’ photographers Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography on Monday for their “striking images of life” in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre abrogated the territory’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.

The Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious award in journalism, had been postponed for two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Dana Canedy, who administers the awards, delivered the news from her living room via video-conference instead of a ceremony at Columbia University in New York.

The photographers captured images of protests, the police, paramilitary action and daily life in Jammu and Kashmir after phone and internet services were shut down in August last year, making it difficult for the world to gain access to the region.

“Snaking around roadblocks, sometimes taking cover in strangers’ homes and hiding cameras in vegetable bags...then headed to an airport to persuade travellers to carry the photo files out with them and get them to the AP’s office in New Delhi,” the news agency described the hurdles of reporting in a statement.

AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said the photographers’ work was important. “This honor continues AP’s great tradition of award-winning photography,” he added. “Thanks to the team inside Kashmir, the world was able to witness a dramatic escalation of the long struggle” for what he described as “the region’s independence”.

“It was always cat-and-mouse,” Yasin said. “These things made us more determined than ever to never be silenced.”

Yasin and Khan are based in Kashmir’s city Srinagar and Anand is based in Jammu.

Anand said the award left him speechless. “I was shocked and could not believe it,” he added. “It’s an honour and a privilege beyond any we could have ever imagined,” Yasin tweeted. “It’s overwhelming to receive this honor.”

AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said the award is “a testament to the skill, bravery, ingenuity and teamwork of Dar, Mukhtar, Channi and their colleagues”, adding that the journalists’ compelling storytelling shows people the absolute best of what the news organisation does.

Meanwhile, Reuters photographers Tyrone Siu, Adnan Abidi, Ammar Awad, Anushree Fadnavis, Willy Kurniawan, Leah Millis, Athit Perawongmetha, Thomas Peter, Kai Pfaffenbach, Jorge Silva and Susana Vera were recognised in the Breaking News Photography category for capturing the magnitude of the anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year. Their coverage was recognised for “wide-ranging and illuminating photographs of Hong Kong as citizens protested infringement of their civil liberties and defended the region’s autonomy by the Chinese government”, the Pulitzer committee said.

See their coverage in Jammu and Kashmir and Hong Kong here.