Mr. Yusuf Jameel, the Srinagar based journalist who pioneered fearless journalism in Jammu and Kashmir, has been chosen for the 2019-2020 PEN Gauri Lankesh Award for Democratic Idealism.
The announcement came on January 29, Gauri Lankesh birth anniversary. Jameel was chosen by a jury of scholar Chandan Gowda, editor Vinutha Mallya and poet Asiya Zahoor. The jury is established afresh each year.
The award was instituted by PEN South India and PEN Delhi to remember the Lankesh Patrike editor who was assassinated in 2017. It is given annually to a select individual or organisation whose “work reflects an abiding passion and courage towards advancing democratic culture in India,” the organisers wrote in a statement.
Offered annually on the birth anniversary of Gauri Lankesh, it carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs. One Lakh.
Jameel is the 1996 winner of the International Press Freedom Award. A veteran in both print and radio journalism and one who is as adept in English language reporting as he is in Urdu, Jameel’s work is not only reflective of his personal courage and commitment but also the wrought political landscape of where he is based, Kashmir.
The Press Statement on the PEN-Gauri Lanesh award from the committee-
“The 2019-2020 PEN-Gauri Lankesh Award for Democratic Idealism is awarded to Yusuf Jameel. His work in journalism shows an exemplary commitment to professional integrity and the ideals of democracy. Starting his career as a journalist with Aftab, the Srinagar-based Urdu daily, in the early 1980s, he has worked for various newspapers and media agencies since, including 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. 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.”
In 2018, the award was given to cartoonist P. Mahamud. P Mahamud has always been very vocal about the advancement of social and economic justice through his work. His works have always offered a non-partisan critique of political corruption, communalism and caste prejudice, in the country in general, and in Karnataka in particular.
PEN was founded in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers. PEN defends the rights of writers internationally. PEN has three centres in India – Delhi, Bombay and South India. PEN South India was founded in 2017 and is based out of a different city each year.