NEW DELHI – Indian journalist Neha Dixit has won the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award for 2019. She is among five winners from four countries. The award, the CPJ says, is meant to honour “courageous journalists from around the world”.
“In 2019, Dixit spent months investigating and reporting stories that shed a light on important issues in the country, including extrajudicial killings by police. She also reported on the illegal detention of citizens under draconian laws that appeared to be motivated by political interests. In January 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a notice to the Indian government to express its concern about the detentions,” the CPJ has said about Dixit.
Dixit’s stories on extrajudicial killings and illegal detentions in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana were published on the news portal The Wire. In ‘A Chronicle of the Crime Fiction That is Adityanath’s Encounter Raj‘, she detailed how she met families of 14 men killed in police ‘encounters’ – and why there was reason to suspect the government’s intentions and the legality of these killings. In ‘For Haryana Police, the Holy Cow Is an Excuse for Extra-Judicial Killings‘, Dixit wrote about 16 extra-judicial killings by the police on the suspicion of smuggling cows in the Mewat region of Haryana.
She also brought to light the misuse of the National Security Act to detain Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. All the arrests she reported on were made after incidents of communal clashes, and while the draconian NSA was used against Muslims, the Hindus involved were let off lightly, she wrote in ‘In Run up to 2019, NSA Is the Latest Weapon Against Muslims in UP‘.
The other winners of the International Press Freedom Award 2019 are Patrícia Campos Mello from Brazil, Lucía Pineda Ubau and Miguel Mora from Nicaragua and Maxence Melo Mubyazi from Tanzania. All of the awardees have been subjected to harassment, either online or from their respective governments, the CPJ website says.
In addition to the Press Freedom Award, CPJ also announced this year’s Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award winner – editor of Pakistani daily Dawn, Zaffar Abbas. While talking about Abbas, CPJ details how him and his newspaper have come under government pressure for doing their job.