CPJ is honored to present its 2019 International Press Freedom Award to Indian journalist Neha Dixit.
Neha Dixit, an award-winning freelance reporter, has covered politics, gender, and social justice in print, TV, and online media for more than a decade. She began her career at Tehelka magazine and then joined the special investigation team at India Today newsmagazine.
In 2019, Dixit spent months investigating and reporting stories that shed a light on important issues in the country, including extrajudicial killings by police. She also reported on the illegal detention of citizens under draconian laws that appeared to be motivated by political interests. In January 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a notice to the Indian government to express its concern about the detentions.
In 2018, Dixit reported on the damage to the health of poor Indians who were being used as guinea pigs by pharmaceutical companies in illegal drug trials.
- "Churu Dug Trials: Four months on, Dalit victims report severe damage to health and caste-based harassment," Neha Dixit, October 2018
- "In Run up to 2019, NSA Is the Latest Weapon Against Muslims in UP," Neha Dixit, The Wire, September 2018
- "Justice Denied: A Road Accident That Wasn't, a Lynching That Was," Neha Dixit, August 2018
- "The Sangh's Stolen Child Crusade," Neha Dixit, Outlook, July 2016
In 2016, she wrote a story for Outlook magazine that accused members of a right-wing nationalist group of trafficking more than 31 girls in Assam state to other parts of India in order to inculcate them with a nationalist ideology. After the story was published, members of the ruling party filed a criminal defamation suit against Dixit and Outlook, accusing both of violating Indian law. CPJ condemned the case, which continues today, and provided Dixit with support for its legal fees. CPJ's research has found that section 153A of India's colonial-era penal code, under which the suit was filed, has been used to silence journalists, writers, and academics in India. Dixit was also charged with "inciting communal hatred through writing," for which she could face a five-year prison term.
After Dixit's exposé on extrajudicial killings by the police, she said high-ranking police officials threatened her family's safety if she continued to report on the issue. She is frequently harassed online as a result of her reporting, especially from alleged right-wing extremists. She has been threatened with physical attacks, rape, and death, and her personal information has been exposed online. She told CPJ in May 2019 that she faces up to 300 abusive messages a day.
Dixit's work has been published in international outlets including The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, Caravan, and The Wire. She has received numerous awards, including the European Commission's Lorenzo Natali Media Prize in 2011, the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism in 2014, and the 2016 Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist.