In Kashmir, Printing Presses Raided, Newspapers Banned To Ensure 'Peace'

This is happening in Kashmir for the first time since 1990.

17/07/2016 10:53 AM IST | Updated 17/07/2016 12:05 PM IST
Danish Ishmail / Reuters
A newspaper vendor displays newspapers with cover stories of Osama bin Laden, in Srinagar, May 3, 2011. Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. special forces assault on a Pakistani compound, then quickly buried at sea, in a dramatic end to the long manhunt for the al Qaeda leader who had been the guiding star of global terrorism. REUTERS/Danish Ismail (INDIAN-ADMINISTERED KASHMIR - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST OBITUARY SOCIETY)

For the first time since 1990, the Kashmir government cracked down on the media.

On Saturday, the Kashmir government banned newspaper publication in the state for three days in order to bring 'peace' in the valley rocked by violence.

As the J&K government sought to enforce a complete information blackout, the police raided newspaper printing facilities and seized copies of newspapers "in view of apprehensions of serious trouble in the Kashmir valley in next three days."

According to reports, printing machines were stopped and their staff were reportedly chased, threatened and then, detained.

"Curfew will be imposed and movement of newspaper staff and distribution of newspapers will not be possible," a government spokesperson said.

READ: Who Was Burhan Wani And Why Is Kashmir Mourning Him?

Meanwhile, Internet and cellular communication has also been almost completely snapped.

A spokesman of Greater Kashmir, the leading newspaper in the Valley, told The Hindu that the police seized printing plates and sealed 50,000 copies of the newspaper.

Raja Mohidin, the owner of K T Press, that publishes eight Srinagar-based newspapers, said a police team had raided their printing press at 2 am on Friday and seized all the newspapers there.

He said that eight press employees were arrested.

"We are not seeing this for the first time," Rising Kashmir Editor-in-Chief Shujaat Bukhari told Indian Express.

However, Bukhari said that it is for the first time that the government have officially banned newspapers from publishing. "It is an attack on the freedom of the press," he added.

There have been instances of media gag several times over the years in the Valley, but never officially since 1990.

READ: This Kashmiri IAS Officer Has A Message For Those Who Compared Him With Burhan Wani

Valley newspapers had suspended publication for a month after pressure from the government and militant organisations in 1990.

In 2010, the government had cancelled all curfew passes issued to journalists during the protests by stonepelters. In turns, newspapers couldn't be published. The J&K government had seized all newspapers published in the Valley for one day on February 10 in 2013 after the execution of Afzal Guru.

In response to the outrage by the journalists, Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar said that it is "a temporary measure."

"In our opinion, there is an emotional lot, very young, out in the field, who get surcharged due to certain projections in the media, which results in multiplication of tragedies," Akhtar told Express.

Since the eruption of protests in Kashmir across Valley following the killing of Hizbul commander, Burhan Wani, 39 people were killed and over 1800 people have been injured in the Valley.

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