Expert Council

Yusuf Jameel (India)

Yusuf Jameel is a South Asian journalist known for his coverage of the Kashmir conflict. He has worked for the BBC, Reuters, Time magazine, Voice of America, the New York Times, Khaleej Times and The National and is currently the Kashmir correspondent of the Indian global newspapers The Asian Age and sister publication Deccan Chronicle.

He received International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, New York in 1996, which recognized him as courageous journalist who had "to withstand pressure and attacks from all parties to the conflict in Kashmir".  His fearless and objective reporting on Kashmir won him acclaim in the journalistic and political circles in India and beyond although it also won him enemies. As a reporter for the BBC and Reuters - news organizations widely respected as nonpartisan in Kashmir - Jameel was a conspicuous target.

Jameel began working as a journalist in college for 'Aabshaar' (Waterfall) magazine. He went on to work for the Urdu paper Aftab before joining the Telegraph in 1983. In mid-1984, he also began working for the BBC and Reuters. He has had to withstand pressure from all parties to the Kashmiri conflict, which pits Indian security forces and government-backed militias against an array of guerrilla groups fighting for the state's independence or its merger with Pakistan. The combatants view the local press as biased in favor of their adversaries and have retaliated through violence and intimidation. To date, twelve Kashmiri journalists have been murdered in the course of their work; in half of those cases identities remain unknown. Jameel faced constant threats from all sides, was illegally detained by the Indian army, and faced half a dozen assassination attempts which include the September 1995 parcel bomb explosion in his Srinagar office in which Asian News International (ANI) cameraman Mushtaq Ali was killed. Jameel who was then working for the BBC was along with another photojournalist H.U. Naqash injured in the attack. After the incident, Jameel moved to London for a few months for treatment of the injuries he had received in the bombing before returning to India.

Says Ned Desmond in his blog ‘One Last Question’, “Yusuf Jameel was a young, local reporter in Srinagar, Kashmir in 1989, when the troubles began. I was the same age and the bureau chief for Time magazine in south Asia. We worked together on many occasions, and I always knew that when I left town for home and the safety of New Delhi, Yusuf was going staying behind, right in the middle of all the violence and mayhem. He had to live with the contending forces in the valley, none of whom were satisfied with his efforts to simply tell the truth about events. He was even more in the crosshairs than others because his main gig was with BBC. Hardly anyone read Time magazine in Kashmir, but everyone listened to the BBC Urdu service, and Yusuf was their main reporter on the ground.”

Jameel also won the first Best Journalist/Writer award instituted by the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) in 2006. In February 2011, he received Ahad Zargar Memorial award for his outstanding contribution as a journalist. The award given annually in recognition of excellent work done in the fields of literature, journalism, public and social services has been instituted by the Ahad Zargar Research Foundation after Kashmiri Sufi poet Abdul Ahad Zargar.

He also received the prestigious PEN-Gauri Lankesh Award for 2019-2020 for Democratic Idealism. The award instituted by PEN South India and PEN Delhi to remember Gauri Lankesh, a fearless journalist who was gunned down in cold blood by right-wing extremists in 2017, is offered annually. PEN was founded in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers. It defends the rights of writers internationally and has three centres in India. It acknowledged that Jameel’s work in journalism “shows an exemplary commitment to professional integrity and the ideals of democracy" and that he as a reporter pioneered fearless and candid journalism in Indian-administered-Kashmir. If further said, “As a print and radio journalist working in both Urdu and English languages for over three and a half decades, his work shows a deep level of social engagement and concern and has contributed immensely to the traditions of fair and courageous reportage.”