Srinagar: Even as the state government in Jammu and Kashmir denied having imposed any sort of ban on publication of newspapers in the Valley, the editors and owners of publications today said that it may not be possible for them to resume publication of newspapers in wake of latest developments.
The owners/editors of Kashmir-based newspapers also asked the government to “own the ban” and demanded a statement guaranteeing that “media operations are not being hampered from the movement of staff, to news gathering, printing and the distribution of the newspapers.”
Terming the ban on printing and distribution of newspapers a “press emergency”, owners and editors said that they will review the progress on Wednesday.
“It started with the raids on our printing facilities – seizing newspapers, plates and even detaining the printing staff along with during the intervening night of 15 and 16 July,” a press release by owners/editors of Kashmir newspapers said.
“The ban was later formalized by the senior cabinet minister and state government spokesman saying that in the backdrop of strict curfew restrictions across Kashmir, the movement of newspaper staff and distribution of newspapers will become impossible. In adverse climate that the government enforced, newspapers ceased publications immediately,” it added.
“At the same time, however, the state government resorted to propaganda blitzkrieg insisting that there was no ban. They used all the available media to hit the credibility of the newspapers that has a history of not ceasing its publication even when it members were killed,” a statement by the association of newspapers said.
Yesterday, Chief Minister’s adviser Prof Amitabh Mattoo approached the newspaper owners insisting that it was a “mistake” for which he apologized.
“They asked Prof Mattoo that the government must own the ban and issue a statement guaranteeing that media operations are not being hampered from the movement of staff, to newsgathering, printing and the distribution of the newspapers,” the release said.
“We have not heard anything from anybody in the government since then. It indicates that the government has not changed its press emergency,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the J&K government has told the Centre that there is no ban on publication of newspapers in the Valley.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu spoke to J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti last night and sought details of the matter.
Rubbishing reports of blanket ban on media, Naidu said, "Yesterday I spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and inquired about the reports that newspapers are not being published in Kashmir. She replied and assured me that no such decision has been taken nor anything of this sort will happen in the future."
"Mehbooba Mufti spoke to Venkaiah Naidu last night with regard to the reports of a ban on newspapers in the state. The Chief Minister clarified to Mr Naidu that there is no such ban on publication of newspapers in the Valley," a senior I&B official told news agency PTI.