Bhuyan won the journalism award from Bournemouth University for her feature titled Sorting Through the Paper Trail of Fake Encounters in Manipur.
“This is a story of how wives, mothers, sisters and other family members, have been collecting as much evidence as they can on encounter killings in Manipur,” Bhuyan said. “Manipur has seen the dead bodies. Manipur has not seen the perpetrators.”
Bhuyan was announced as winner from among seven finalists at the closing ceremony of the Festival of Learning India 2018, at the British Council in New Delhi on 16 February.
On the occasion, Parth Meena Nikhil received a special mention from the awards panel for his in-depth reporting on the plight of farmers in Maharashtra. His reportage, which included Sinking wells, sunk in debt and Those 19 minutes cost me 4 million rupees, were published by the People’s Archive of Rural India, a volunteer-run rural journalism platform founded by veteran journalist P Sainath.
The other finalists were, in no particular order:
- Adrija Bose (News18.com), for In This Haryana Village, There Is A Woman Footballer In Nearly Every Home
- Ashwaq Masoodi (Mint), for a three-part series on caste-based discrimination
- Atul Dev (Caravan), for Balancing Act
- Bhasha Singh (National Herald), for ‘No life should end in the gutter’
- Niha Masih (Hindustan Times), for Lost in transition: has linking Aadhaar to government welfare schemes made it difficult for beneficiaries to avail of aid?
This is the second year Bournemouth University has offered the Journalist of Change. The award is open in the print and web categories, for works published in English or any Indian language, and was judged by an expert panel chaired by Nikhil Lakshman, editor-in-chief of rediff.com.
Details of the three-step review process and the judging panel — which included Urvashi Bhutalia, Vrinda Grover, Stephen Jukes, Prem Panicker, Krishna Prasad, Dhruti Shah, and Einar Thorsen — can be accessed here.
The commendation for Bhuyan’s winning work read: “A well-reported, well-written, incredibly powerful story on extra-judicial killings in a hugely underrepresented region in the media. It highlights a problem, and an approach to tackle the problem to make a change.”
The panel also chose to commend Parth Meena Nikhil for his “vital, high-impact reportage on the systemic causes aggravating agrarian distress in a hugely stressed area. These stories reveal the draconian face of agricultural policies and should be on the front pages of every national daily”.
As the 2018 Journalist of Change, Bhuyan will spend time at Bournemouth University participating in active programmes, and interacting with scholars and practitioners.
Last year, Snigdha Poonam had won the Journalist of Change 2017 for her reportage on a spate of suicides in Kota, in southeast Rajasthan. Her winning work had appeared in Huffington Post India under the title Why 57 Young Students Have Taken Their Lives In Kota.