The Bold Voice of J&K

Kashmir newspapers fail to hit stands for third day

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SRINAGAR: Local newspapers in curfew-bound Kashmir failed to hit the stands on Monday for the third consecutive day after the government’s alleged “clampdown” on the media in the aftermath of widespread protests in the Valley.
No local daily — English, Urdu or Kashmiri — was available as the newspaper owners decided not to publish them after the “clampdown” by the government on Friday night.
Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday allegedly closed down the offices of at least two printing presses after seizing plates of newspaper and printed copies in Rangreth Industrial Estate in the outskirts of the city here.
Local news agencies also said they have stopped their news bulletins after police allegedly asked them not to issue those. Attempts to seek an official version of the events did not fructify.
Following the police action, a meeting of Kashmir-based newspaper editors, printers and publishers, was held on Saturday at Press Colony in which the issue was discussed. The journalists also held a protest against the alleged “clampdown” and termed it as an “attack on the freedom of press”.
A statement of the newspaper editors, printers and publishers of Kashmir issued here said they strongly “condemned” the alleged government action.
It said when they contacted a government spokesperson during the Saturday meeting, he conveyed to them that in view of apprehensions of “serious trouble” in Kashmir Valley in next three days aimed at subverting peace, strict curfew will be imposed and movement of press staff and distribution of newspapers will not be possible.

‘Ban didn’t have Mehbooba’s consent’
The decision to ban publication of newspapers in the Valley did not have the consent of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and might have been taken at the local level for which “heads will roll”, according to her advisor Amitabh Mattoo.
In a discussion program on NDTV, Mattoo said he had personally visited homes of editors and apologised for alleged banning of newspapers saying there could have been a “miscommunication”.
He also said from tomorrow, newspapers will resume printing in the Valley and they can publish whatever they feel without any “censorship or ban of anykind”.
“I can say with all the responsibility that there was no ban. I think there was some miscommunication; obviously there was a curfew but the newspapers can publish, as they have done, online or print edition.
“Sometimes the decisions are taken at a local level which is not something that the government at the highest level authority approves of. I can assure you that in this age of globalisation and where we have Internet and electronic means of communication, there is no way of imposing a ban now,” he said.
According to Mattoo, at a suitable time there has to be a clarification and “heads will roll” on who communicated this decision and who took that action. “The fact of the matter remains that in this day and age, no matter how grave the situation is, if someone took a decision or communicated a decision or miscommunicated something like this, once the crisis is over obviously we will have to take action against that person and I can say this with responsibility that I have as advisor to the Chief Minister,” he said. He was countered by Editor of Rising Kashmir Shujaat Bukhaari who said that Government’s spokesperson Education Minister Naeem Akhtar on Saturday had told a group of 20 editors that newspapers cannot be published for three days. “I can’t comment on Shujaat’s version. I have personally gone to main editors’ houses and apologised if there was a miscommunication and if misinformation. All I can say that it was not done with the consent of the Chief Minister of the state,” Mattoo said

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