Brussels, June 12th, 2017 (Ucan). Freelance Indian journalist Umar Manzoor Shah has won a European Commission 2017 Lorenzo Natali Media Prize.

Shah, who won the prize in the Asia Pacific amateur category, was recognized for his story "Church in Kashmir offers hope to people with disabilities," a story reported for ucanews.com from conflict-torn Jammu and Kashmir state on church efforts to help people with disabilities.

The Kashmir native said his experiences whilst growing up during the conflicts in India's only Muslim majority state resulted in an early interest in journalism, and that he has been collaborating with radio and local TV stations since he was 15 years old.

Shah, who was born in 1986 in Srinagar, the state capital, graduated in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2009 at the University of Kashmir and has since been pursuing a career as a freelance journalist.

Writing for several press outlets such as ucanews.com, Inter Press Service and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, his stories cover mostly social issues in war-conflicted areas, giving a voice to affected populations.

His stories focus on giving a voice to those from deprived parts of society, such as mental illness among the people living in conflict zones like Kashmir, stories related to poor women and disabled children, and farmers struggling for survival.

Shah collected his prize at the awards ceremony in Brussels on June 7.