In a statement, the India chapter of the International Press Institute said Ahuja, a senior special correspondent with The Week, received the award for her exclusive story on Naga underground camps, providing the parallel and secret Naga State functioning with all ministries inside Nagaland, interviews and first-person accounts of Naga "ministers" and officials.
The award comprises a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh, a trophy and a citation.
The Indian Chapter of the IPI is an active forum of editors, publishers and senior executives of newspapers, magazines and news agencies, all of whom are members of the International Press Institute.
The Indian Chapter has successfully hosted the World Congress and General Assembly of the IPI in India in 1966 and 2001, and is taking up various issues related to press freedom, the statement said.
Ahuja was selected for the "fact-based approach she adopted to gather information about the 'state within the state' functioning in the border state, and its implications for the state of Nagaland and for the country".
The first-hand account reporting has contributed for a better understanding of the long-pending Naga issue, the IPI said.
After considering the entries, the jury headed by former Attorney-General of India Soli Sorabjee unanimously selected Ahuja.
Other members of the jury were N Ravi, Chairman, IPI -India & Director, The Hindu; M K Razdan, former Editor-in-Chief, Press Trust of India, Riyad Mathew, Chief Associate Editor, Malayala Manorama and Sanjaya Baru, Former Chief Editor, Financial Express and Business Standard.
Ritu Sarin of the Indian Express was the recipient of the award in 2017 for her impressive work as an investigative journalist and for leading the Indian Express probe into Indian names revealed in the Panama Papers.
IPI India had instituted the annual award in 2003 to recognise and honour the best work done by an Indian media organisation or journalist working in print, radio, television and internet mediums, in furtherance of public interest, including safeguarding of freedom of the press and other freedoms such as human rights.
The first Award for Excellence in Journalism, 2003 was given to The Indian Express for its reporting of the Gujarat riots and its aftermath. NDTV won the award in 2004 for its expose of the baby-swapping racket in Hyderabad, and the corruption trial of the Telgi stamp scam.
Founded 69 years ago in New York by a group of editors from 15 countries, IPI has grown into a truly global organisation committed to the furtherance of the freedom of the press.
The Vienna-based IPI is committed to the promotion of free exchange of accurate and balanced news among nations. It has also been at the forefront of safeguarding the freedom of the press through protests to governments and organisations against any violation of press freedom and restrictions imposed on the free flow of information.
(With inputs from agencies.)