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Indian journalist takes AFP prize for Kashmir work

Dilnaz Boga, an Indian reporter and photographer, received the Kate Webb Prize from Agence France-Presse on Wednesday for her courageous investigative work in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Boga, 33, spent a year in Srinagar working for the respected news portal Kashmir Dispatch as well as a number of international publications and websites, the culmination of a decade covering the troubled region. She received a certificate and 3,000 euros ($4,200) in cash from Eric Wishart, AFP's regional director for the Asia-Pacific region, in a ceremony at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong. "Dilnaz Boga is a more than worthy recipient of the third Kate Webb Award, and her work stood out from a very strong field of applicants from across the region," Wishart said.

Boga said the prize money would help support her future coverage of Kashmir as an independent journalist. "I, on behalf of my colleagues in Kashmir, would like to say that we will not stop telling the truth at any cost," Boga said. She vowed to "fight the battle against forgetfulness -- for we know that there can be no peace without justice". The Kate Webb Prize was launched in 2008 in honour of a legendary AFP correspondent in Asia who blazed a trail for women in international journalism. The prize recognises exceptional work produced by locally engaged Asian journalists operating in dangerous or difficult circumstances in the region. It is administered by the AFP Foundation, a non-profit organisation created to promote higher standards of journalism worldwide, and the Webb family. "Dilnaz has shown a lot of drive in going to live in Kashmir to report on the impact of a very volatile situation, and on the lives of ordinary people, especially children," Webb's brother Jeremy and sister Rachel Miller said in a statement. "In doing so, she obviously uses her direct experiences with the people she is reporting on to shape how she writes about issues. That very much reflects Kate's way of operating particularly in the early part of her career," they added. Before working in Srinagar, Mumbai-based Boga earned a master's degree in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney with a dissertation on the psychological impact of human rights violations on children in Kashmir. The inaugural Kate Webb Prize was given in 2008 to Pakistani journalist Mushtaq Yusufzai for his reports from the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The 2009 prize was awarded to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, which was chosen for its fearless work in the deadliest country for reporters. Webb, who died in 2007 at the age of 64, was one of the finest correspondents to have worked for AFP, earning a reputation for bravery while covering wars and other historic events in the Asia-Pacific region over a career spanning four decades. She first made her name as a UPI correspondent in the Vietnam War prior to assignments in other parts of Southeast Asia as well as India and the Middle East with AFP.