Prominent daily newspaper Kashmir Reader was back on the stands on Wednesday after a gap of three months. A ban was imposed on the newspaper on 2 October by the state government during the unrest in Kashmir Valley. The government had called the newspaper a threat to “public tranquility.”
An order issued by the deputy commissioner of Srinagar had said that the material and content published by the newspaper “tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility.” Now in its order for revocation, the deputy commissioner said, “Kashmir Reader was directed to abstain from printing and publishing under Section 144 of the CRPC. That order remains enforceable for two months only as such has lapsed on 30 November, 2016. Since no extension has been ordered by the government, there is no ban on publishing of the newspaper as on date.”
During the unrest nearly 100 people were shot dead and 14,000 injured in the street protests and stone-throwing incidents, bringing the state to a halt. It was the media that continued to highlight the stories of killings and injuries caused by the pellets fired by the security forces to control the protests. In many incidents, journalists were threatened, beaten up or not allowed to perform their duties.
The government's anti-press sentiments were clear when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti walked out of a press conference in August after being questioned about the public protests. She had ridiculed the journalists and said, “Thank you, now have a cup of tea,” while walking off the podium, where she was accompanied by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. It is believed that the government's behaviour towards the media only angered the people protesting on the streets more.
In Kashmir, the ban on Kashmir Reader was seen as a warning to the whole media fraternity. In their first editorial after resuming publication, the newspaper wrote, “When a government decides to ban a newspaper, unheard of in the 21st century until we were arbitrarily barred from publishing, it could either mean the administration’s lack of confidence in addressing the cause(s) of such widespread unrest or a failure to muster required political resources for a process of resolution.”
Now it looks like the government wants to make amends with the media. After the Kashmir Editors Guild elections selected Fayaz Kaloo as its president, the chief minister met the guild members along with Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu.
According to a spokesperson, the chief minister during the meeting with the guild, said, “She hoped the guild would play its role in strengthening the institution of journalism in the state and assured the government's support.”
The guild members later visited the Kashmir Reader office on Tuesday, where Kaloo said that the curbs on the media are nothing new but every time there was a crisis, the media has dealt with it head on and will continue to do so. “Our strength comes from the challenges we face on a day to day basis but it has its own costs,” he said.
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Updated Date: Dec 28, 2016 18:02:58 IST