National News

Major crackdown on media in Kashmir: Police raid newspaper offices, block cable TV

No publication – English, Urdu or Kashmiri – was available in the Valley, while the unrest continued for the eighth consecutive day.

Local newspapers in curfew-bound Kashmir valley failed to hit the stands on Saturday as authorities allegedly raided some media offices and detained a few of their employees while seizing the printed copies, reported PTI.

Publishers of major Urdu and English newspapers in Kashmir said police conducted a midnight raid at the printing presses. While most newspapers working out of Srinagar couldn't go to print, copies of those who had printed their editions were seized at midnight and in early morning raids, reported IANS. As a result, newspapers – English, Urdu or Kashmiri – saw no circulation in the Valley.

Cellphone and internet services remain disabled in large parts of Kashmir. All telecom operators had been asked to suspend services in the Valley on Friday. Cable TV operations were also suspended the same evening, but restored later on Saturday. The only mobile service functional in the valley is Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, and the only internet connectivity is the BSNL broadband service, IANS reported.

Targeting the press

"Policemen seized the plates of Greater Kashmir and more than 50,000 printed copies of [Urdu daily] Kashmir Uzma and closed down the printing press," a Greater Kashmir report said.

Printing press KT Press, which prints many newspapers, was also raided and shut down, its owner Raja Mohi ud Din was quoted as saying in a report on Kashmir Life. Police seized "newspaper copies which were printed in thousands, besides printing material, and printing plates of a few newspapers...also have been taken away by police,” he claimed, adding that his staff were detained by police.

KT press prints Kashmir Reader, Tameel-e-Irshad, Kashmir Times, Kashmir Observer, The Kashmir Monitor, Brighter Kashmir, Mission Kashmir andKashmir Age.

Another English daily, Kashmir Reader, also made similar claims.

The printing facility of Kashmir Images at SIDCO Industrial Estate Shalteng, Srinagar was also targeted, said its editor Bashir Manzar in a Facebook post. He said a posse of policemen claiming to be from nearby Parimpora Police Station came to the press around 2 am "and took away copies of this and other newspapers that were being published at the facility, besides some printing material".

The policemen told the staff "not to publish any newspaper for next three days,” Manzar said in his post.

Targeting distribution

After the printing presses, the next target was distribution of newspapers.

"We were readying to distribute the newspaper that police men from Budgam police station seized the newspaper copies,” a staff member of the Rising Kashmir was quoted as saying by the Kashmir Life.

Similar scenes were witnessed at Janta Agencies opposite to Government Women’s College at MA Road where a police jeep from Kothibagh Police Station was positioned against the major newspaper distributing agency, reported the website.

“Daily Aftab and a few other newspapers were seized from here,” a hawker told the Kashmir Life, “police didn’t allow us to take newspapers.”

Hawkers were seen waiting near Lambert Lane near Regal Chowk, another major newspaper distributing hub. The policemen suddenly stopped their jeep at the spot and searched for the newspapers, the Kashmir Life said.

Only those newspapers which had escaped the police scanner, or had not reached the distribution point at the time of raid, escaped confiscation and may have subsequently reached some readers, Manzar said.

Uneasy calm

Meanwhile, the toll climbed to 39 on Saturday, after two more people were killed in clashes, as tension prevailed in the Valley for the eighth day following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8. Cable TV and mobile internet services remained suspended in the region, NDTV reported.

Curfew continued in 10 districts, with incidents of stone-pelting and clashes reported from seven districts across north, south and central Kashmir that left scores of people injured, reported the Indian Express.

The External Affairs Ministry hit out at Pakistan on Friday for glorifying terrorists. Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, "We are dismayed at the continued attempts by Pakistan to interfere in our internal matters, where, we reiterate, Pakistan or any other external party has no locus standi."

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said that his country will observe July 19 as a ‘Black Day’ to protest against the killing of Wani and the violence that followed. India asked Pakistan to desist from interfering in its internal affairs. The Bharatiya Janata Party also took a dig at Pakistan and asked them to observe ‘Black Year’ for breeding terrorism. Party leader Nalin Kohli said Pakistan is trying to gain political mileage out of the crisis.

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