Kashmir newspaper ‘ban’ criticised


Rights groups have criticised the authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir for shutting down a newspaper accused of “inciting violence”.

The Kashmir Reader, an English language daily, was ordered to stop publishing on Sunday after weeks of unrest.

Rights groups said the move was an attack on the freedom of the press.

More than 80 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces and thousands more have been injured in Kashmir since July.

The protests were sparked by the killing of a popular militant leader Burhan Wani.

The four-year-old Kashmir Reader is a well-known newspaper in the region and is published from Srinagar.

The paper’s editor said police had come to its office on Sunday carrying an order from local authorities for them to stop publishing. The newspaper ceased publication on Monday.

‘No prior notice’

“There was no prior notice or communication from the government,” Mir Hilal told the AFP news agency.

“If there was a problem with the content, they could have sought an explanation from us.”

Feroz Ahmed, manager of Image copyrightAP
Image captionThe government order said the newspaper was ‘inciting violence’

The order said the Kashmir Reader “contains such material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquillity”.

A 45-year-old law in Jammu and Kashmir state allows authorities to stop publication of newspapers which contains material that is an incitement to violence.

Amnesty International criticised the move, which comes weeks after local authorities briefly banned all newspapers from publishing and stopped internet services.

‘Being critical’

“The government has a duty to respect the freedom of the press, and the right of people to receive information,” Amnesty International said in a statement.

“It cannot shut down a newspaper simply for being critical of the government.”

Journalists marched to protest against the move in Srinagar on Monday, calling it a violation of press freedom.

Writing in the Indian Express newspaper, Mir Hilal said his newspaper was asked to stop publication on Sunday evening on the basis of a government order dated 30 September.

“The media has shortcomings. But instead of imposing bans, the government can help itself, the people and the media by fostering an atmosphere where careless wielding of power does not fetter professionalism,” he wrote.

In July, authorities in Kashmir imposed a three-day ban on publication of newspapers a “temporary measure to address an extraordinary situation”.






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