The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his praise of three journalists who won the Pulitzer Prize, labelling him “anti-national”. Three photojournalists from Jammu and Kashmir – Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin from the Associated Press – were awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for their “striking images of life” in the Kashmir Valley.

“Congratulations to Indian photojournalists Dar Yasin, Mukhtar Khan and Channi Anand for winning a Pulitzer Prize for their powerful images of life in Jammu & Kashmir,” Gandhi had tweeted earlier in the day. “You make us all proud.”

BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra lashed out at Gandhi, alleging that the three photojournalists believed that Kashmir is a “contested” territory. “Will [Congress President] Sonia Gandhi answer?” Patra asked in a tweet. “Whether she and the Congress party concur with Rahul Gandhi on the issue of Kashmir not being an integral part of India! Rahul today congratulated those who got an award for considering Kashmir as a ‘Contested Territory’!” Patra also used the hashtag #AntiNationalRahulGandhi.

Patra also posted a photograph in which one of the winning photojournalists, Yasin, refers to Jammu and Kashmir as “Indian controlled Kashmir”. “Mr Rahul is Kashmir an integral part of India??” Patra asked. “Answer.”

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. India had revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 on August 5 last year, and imposed a lockdown in the region.

The Pulitzer Prize, the most prestigious award in journalism, had been postponed for two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

See the journalists’ coverage in Jammu and Kashmir here.

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Three photographers from J&K win Pulitzer for coverage after erstwhile state lost special status