Washington (USA) | Jagran News Desk: Indian-origin journalist Megha Rajagopalan, along with two other contributors, has won the Pulitzer Prize for their innovative investigative report that exposes a vast infrastructure of prisons and mass internment camps secretly build by China to detain Muslims in its disputed Xinjiang region.

Rajagopalan who works with New York City-based BuzzFeed News is among two Indian-origin journalists who won the top journalism award of the US on Friday.

Neil Bedi of the American Newspaper Tampa Bay Times also received the award for local reporting. Along with him, Kathleen McGrory has also been awarded the prize for exposing a Sheriff’s Office initiative that identified people expected to be future crime suspects, including children using computer modelling.

“What Kathleen and Neil unearthed in Pasco County has had a profound impact on the community. This is what the best investigative journalism can do and why it is so essential,” said Mark Katches, Times executive editor.

Rajagopalan won the Pulitzer Prize under the International Reporting category. In 2017, she was the first to visit an internment camp- at a time when China used to deny that such a place even existed. However, it was not long after China had already begun to detain thousands of Muslims in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government had tried to silence Rajagopalan by revoking her visa and rejecting her from the country. They would also cut off access to the entire region for the journalists.

However, Rajagopalan partnered with Alison Killing who specialises in forensic analysis of architecture and satellite images of buildings, and Christo Buschek, a programmer to investigate the abuse of human rights by China.

After winning the award Rajagopalan said that she was shocked but grateful to the entire team who funded their work and allowed it to happen. She also acknowledged the courage of sources who told her everything despite the threat to their lives.

Rajagopalan along with Killing and Buschek used satellite images of the Xinjiang region to find out where were the Chinese detaining Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities. They started with a dataset of 50,000 locations.

However, Buschek built a custom tool that helped in sorting the images using which they were able to identify 260 structures that looked like detention camps. The team also engaged with more than a dozen prisoners in the detention camps to bring their stories to the world.

The Pulitzer Prize is awarded every year in 21 categories. Each winner receives a certificate and a USD 15,000 cash award. The winner in the public service category is given a gold medal.

Posted By: Sugandha Jha