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Kashmir Reader banned by Srinagar DM

Catch Team | Updated on: 3 October 2016, 12:56 IST

For the second time during the ongoing turmoil, the Jammu and Kashmir government has moved to gag the local press in Kashmir Valley. This time by banning the publication of a local newspaper Kashmir Reader for being a threat to peace.

Five policemen visited the office of the newspaper at Batamaloo in Srinagar around 8.15 pm Sunda and delivered the gag order.

Mir Hilal, the editor of Kashmir Reader on Facebook:

Kashmir Reader also published a story on their site about the ban.

The order, however, didn't mentioned a specific report or reports as the ground for taking the extreme step.

Gagged

"On the basis of credible inputs it has been observed that the daily newspaper namely Kashmir Reader published within the jurisdiction of district Srinagar contains such material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquillity," accordin to the order passed by Srinagar District Magistrate Farooq Ahmad Lone.

"It has been observed that the contents published in the above newspaper is of such nature that can easily cause incitement of acts of violence and disturbance of public tranquillity," the order added.

The DM, in the order wrote there were sufficient grounds "to invoke the powers vested in me by Section 144 CrPC read with Section 3 of News Papers Incitement of Offences Act, 1971 and Section 10 of Press and Publication Act, 1989 and proceed further in the matter by passing a. conditional order of stopping the printing and publishing of newspaper."

The order calls on the printer, publisher and owner of Kashmir Reader to abstain from printing and publishing of his newspaper till further orders so that disturbance of public tranquillity is prevented.

And there were more

Earlier, two weeks into the unrest in July, the state government conducted a midnight swoop and seized the newspapers in Srinagar and prevented their distribution. Around 20 police personnel barged into the corporate office of the state's largest newspaper Greater Kashmir, took away plates of the English daily and seized more than 50,000 copies of the Urdu edition Kashmir Uzma.

The distribution of other English and Urdu dailies including Kashmir Reader, Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Observer was also stopped.

Looking the other way

Ironically the state government later feigned ignorance of the deed - albeit three days after the ban. The veteran PDP leader and the former Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and the advisor to Chief Minister Amitabh Mattoo, in their respective interviews to some television channels, denied any knowledge of the gag.

However, this time, the government has confined its action to Kashmir Reader. The paper was launched just three years ago and has since become conspicuous for its reportage of the human rights excesses in the state.

Its Sunday edition ran a lead story about the death of an 18-year-old youth, Muzaffar Ahmad Pandit, hit by a pellet gun fire on 15 September. The intro of the story ran as follows:

"An old man is crouching on a stick in a vast paddy field at Chak-e-Kawoosa village, near Narbal in Budgam district. The funeral of his grandson is taking place. Ghulam Qadir Sheikh, tears rolling down his wrinkled face, is trying hard to have a last glimpse of his 18-year-old grandson, Muzaffar Ahmed Pandit. The coffin of Muzaffar is being showered with candies while women are singing eulogies".

Outrage

The news about the ban on the paper triggered some outrage on the social media:

"Indian democracy at work. Must be a part of 'Mufti Sahab's vision'", tweeted Muhammad Uzair. And a tweet from one Harsaran Singh read: "Signs of a failed government & the last ditch efforts to salvage itself".

Similarly, the move generated a contentious debate on Facebook with people calling on the other newspapers in Valley to protest.

"Can the media persons collectively oppose this arbitrary ban? Time to stand United," the journalist Mohammad Sayeed Malik posted on FB.


Edited by Jhinuk Sen


Also read: Mehbooba govt now holds back ads from Kashmir press to make them toe the line

Also read: Kashmiri press torn between covering surgical strikes and valley shutdown


First published: 3 October 2016, 12:56 IST
 
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