Namrata Biji Ahuja, a senior journalist at The Week has been chosen for the International Press Institute-India award this year for her story on “Naga underground camps” that explored the “parallel and secret” functioning of a ‘state within a state’, the forum said on Saturday.
The IPI-India Award for Excellence in Journalism which carries a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh, a trophy and a citation, will be given to Ahuja at a function later in Delhi, it said.
“The award is for her exclusive story on Naga underground camps, providing the parallel and secret Naga State functioning with all ministries inside Nagaland, interviews and first personal accounts of Naga ‘ministers’ and officials,” the IPI-India said in a statement.
She has been chosen for the “fact-based approach” she adopted to gather information about the “state within the state” functioning in the border state, and its implications for the state of Nagaland and for the country, it said.
The first-hand account reporting has contributed for a “better understanding of the long pending Naga issue”, the forum said.
After considering the entries received for the Award, the jury of editors and publishers headed by former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee, unanimously selected Ahuja for the award.
The other members of the jury were—N Ravi, Chairman, IPI -India & Director, The Hindu; M K Razdan, former Editor-in-Chief, Press Trust of India; Riyad Mathew, Chief Associate Editor, Malayala Manorama; and Sanjaya Baru, former Chief Editor, Financial Express and Business Standard, the statement said.
IPI-India had instituted the annual award in 2003 to recognise and honour the best work done by an Indian media organisation or journalist working in print, radio, television and internet medium, in furtherance of public interest, including safeguarding of freedom of the press and other freedoms such as human rights.
The first Award for Excellence in Journalism, 2003 was given to The Indian Express for its reporting of the Gujarat riots and its aftermath. NDTV won the award in 2004 for its expose of the baby-swapping racket in Hyderabad, and the corruption trail of the Telgi stamp scam.
The jury did not find any entry eligible for the award in 2005 and 2008.
In 2006, the Award was given to The Indian Express for its investigations into the Bihar flood scam and vanishing tigers. In 2007, the Outlook magazine was selected for the investigation into two defence scams relating to purchase of Scorpene submarines and the leaks from the Navy war room.
The Award in 2009 was jointly given to Bidisha Goshal of The Week for her investigation into the sexual victimisation of the widows of farmers who committed suicide in Vidarbha, and to The Indian Express for its investigation into the Hindu terror links in the Malegaon and Modasa blasts.
Tehelka was the recipient of the Award in 2010 for its graphic expose of the cold-blooded execution of an innocent bystander by the security forces in Manipur.
Previous recipients of the award include Karan Thapar, M Shajil Kumar of Malayala Manorama and Ritu Sarin of Indian Express.
Founded 69 years ago in New York by a group of editors from 15 countries, International Press Institute has grown into a truly global organisation committed to the furtherance of the freedom of press.
“Vienna-based IPI is committed to promotion of free exchange of accurate and balanced news among nations. It has also been in the forefront of safeguarding the freedom of the press through protests to governments and organisations against any violation of press freedom and restrictions imposed on the free flow of information,” the statement said.
The Indian Chapter of the IPI is an active forum of editors, publishers and senior executives of newspapers, magazines and news agencies, all of whom are members of the International Press Institute.