In the Pulitzer-winning picture recently gaining traction, the eyes of a female child have been taken away as a result of pelting from Indian troops. This brutal act has pushed this young child into the dark and she will never be able to see her loved ones and the beauty of nature for the rest of her life.

The photographs taken by photography journalists, who managed to sneak into areas under curfew in Indian-Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and smuggled the pictures to new Delhi, is a depiction of heart-wrenching scenes from IOK. God knows how horrible this captured scene is in reality; without saying anything, the picture is talking about the unprecedented brutalities of Indian troops against oppressed Kashmiris. Nine hundred thousand armed troops have locked down IOK since August 2019 and it is being reported that people are suffering from coronavirus while there is no medical care for them.

I would like to salute Mr Dar Yasin, Mr Mukhtar Khan, and Mr Channi Anand of Associated Press – the photographers who let the world see what is happening in Kashmir through their pictures. Their work has been awarded the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in feature photography which is a great honour. They have been awarded for taking the pictures of oppressed Kashmiris with their expressive images from Kashmir during this curfew after India stripped it of its semi-autonomy. Yasin and Mukhtar Khan are based in Srinagar, while Anand is from the neighbouring Jammu district. They have shown their courage against all odds and defied the wrath of PM Modi. As all modes of communications continued to be shut down, these journalists/photographers had to gather information on protests, etc. in person. Mr Khan and Mr Yasin had to snake around the roadblocks in the regional capital of Srinagar, facing mistrust from both protesters and troops. Sometimes they had to hide in the guise of protestors in strangers’ homes while hiding cameras everywhere they had a chance to be shot by Indian troops like other Kashmiris that are being killed. They took a great risk with even their families unaware of their whereabouts, while they successfully captured the images of angry crowds, protests, troops, violence and paramilitary actions, and daily happenings.

In another picture, Kashmiri Muslim women are offering prayer outside the shrine of Sufi Saint Sheikh Syed Abdul Qadir Jeelani in Srinagar, praying for the freedom and safety of their loved ones from Indian troops. Their eyes are looking for their loved ones who will perhaps never come back as a result of the massacre and mass graves filled with young and brave Kashmiri sons, husbands, and fathers. According to the reports of OHCHR dated June 14, 2018 and July 8, 2019, more than 94,000 Kashmiris have been killed so far. 7,000 persons have been killed in Indian custody, 22,000 women have been widowed, 105,000 children have been orphaned and 10,000 women have been raped and molested by the Indian military and paramilitary troops since 1989. More than 8,000 people have gone missing in enforced disappearances by Indian forces since 1989.

Another picture displays how Indian soldiers are destroying motorcycles of college students who were some of the protestors against the alleged rape of a 3-year-old girl in Srinagar. This shows how oppressed Kashmiris are being beaten up by Indian soldiers for demanding the rights and safety of their children. Bravo, dear journalists for defying and exposing the Indian state brutalities against oppressed people of Kashmir! I appeal to world human rights organisations that these three journalists must be given the highest award for risking their lives to report on human rights abuses. I also appeal to the OIC to consider an award for this group of three highly professional and brave photographers to highlight the brutalities being committed against oppressed Kashmiris. I would also like to request the journalist unions of Pakistan to honour this group with an award.

Basically, these pictures have become a source of strength for oppressed Kashmiris, who have reportedly shown their gratitude to this brave group of journalists. PM Modi is fond of Bollywood ideas and I hope he will make a film on these three heroes showing how they circumvented his formidable security ring around Kashmir. These three journalists smartly broke the myth of security and restriction of his troops and managed to sneak in and take the pictures as well as managing to dispatch them to his capital.

Today I wrote a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and local and international journalists unions and organisations to take all the necessary steps to ensure the well-being of these three brave journalists who defied the Indian state aggression against the oppressed people of Kashmir.

Note: Opinions expressed are solely my own and not necessarily to reflect the views or opinions of my party.

Senator Rehman Malik

The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Standing Committee on Interior. He can be reached at: rmalik1212@gmail.com, Twitter

@Senrehmanmalik