Local newspapers will not hit the stands for the fifth consecutive day in curfew-bound Kashmir on Wednesday as editors have decided not to publish newspapers despite permission, saying the government has yet to guarantee that media operations will not be hampered.
Under pressure after the clampdown on the media, the government shifted Budgam Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Fayaz Ahmed Lone for the raid on newspaper printing installations.
On Friday night, printing presses of newspapers were raided in Budgam, printing stopped and staff allegedly detained for some time, after which local newspapers did not hit the stands.
“The government tendered a verbal apology and termed the ban as a mistake,” said Masood Hussain, editor of Kashmir Life, after a meeting of owners and editors of Kashmir-based newspapers in Srinagar.
“At the same time, the state government resorted to a propaganda blitzkrieg, insisting that there was no ban. It used the media available to hit at the credibility of newspapers, having a history of not ceasing publication even when its staff members were killed. Editors took this issue very seriously,” he said.
“The government must own up to the ban and issue a statement guaranteeing that media operations, from movement of staff to news gathering, printing and distribution of newspapers, are not being hampered,” he further said.
“We have not heard anything from anybody in the government since then. It indicates that the government has not changed its Press emergency,” Hussain said.
He said after raids on newspaper printing facilities, the ban was formalised by a senior Cabinet minister and government spokesman, saying in the backdrop of strict curfew restrictions across Kashmir, the movement of newspaper staff and distribution of newspapers would be impossible.
Hussain said in the wake of these developments, it might not be possible to resume publication of newspapers. “They will review the situation on Wednesday,” he said.
There was confusion within the government over the media gag. This became evident when the government shifted the Budgam SSP after the raids on Friday.
An impression had been given by the government that the order to raid printing presses of newspapers was issued by the SSP. (Courtesy: The Tribune)
2015 Kashmir Despatch