According to a report in The Wire, the award was cancelled by MIT-WPU's management allegedly under pressure from right-wing political sections. The journalist was informed about the sudden cancellation on the eve of the award presentation ceremony.
The Institute's administration has not officially addressed the incident.
Nabi’s report, entitled ‘The half widows of Kashmir’, documented the struggles of Kashmiri women after the disappearance of their husbands. The report was published by the Scroll and supported by the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting.
For the said award by MIT-WPU, Nabi's piece was chosen the winner under the category ‘journalism that promoted empathy, understanding and inclusivity in society’.
The story was selected winner by a seven-member jury comprising three members from the institute and four external members, including Sunanda Mehta, resident editor of The Indian Express, Pune edition, Sandeep Adhwaryu, cartoonist at The Times of India, Sanjeev Ratna Singh, head of the media school at Bennett University, and M K Venu, senior journalist and founding editor of The Wire.
Nabi was informed about winning the award both on phone and email by the Director of the Department of Media & Communication at MIT-WPU. Dhiraj Singh, on October 11, The Wire reported.
According to the report, the institute also made arrangements for Nabi to travel to Pune on October 17 for the award presentation ceremony. However, Nabi said she received a call from an unknown faculty member of the institute on October 16, who informed her about the last-minute cancellation of the award citing political pressures and safety concerns. She verified this with an assistant professor, Rajeesh Kumar, who confirmed the cancellation.
When Nabi approached assistant professor Rajeesh Kumar for verification, he confirmed the award's cancellation. Subsequently, Dhiraj Singh declined to provide written confirmation of the reason for the award cancellation and only conveyed the alleged political pressure verbally, Nabi told The Wire.
Three of the jury members, when made aware of the cancellation, decided not to attend a discussion focused on "media and democracy" at the said event. Their decision was rooted in concerns over censorship and harassment experienced by Kashmiri journalists. Venu, one of the jury members, expressed strong reservations about the treatment of Kashmiri journalists, which influenced their collective decision not to participate in the event, he told The Wire.