By Raqib Hameed Naik, TwoCircles.net
Srinagar: After 86 days, Kashmir Reader hit the stands on Wednesday, December 28. But if you did not know that it had been banned, the tone of the paper would have hardly been a surprise. Because in short, nothing had changed.
In a clear announcement that the paper would stick to its ethics, the front-page contained an editorial “UNSHACKLED- We are back!” along with stories of pellet victims.
The Kashmir Editors Guild, the association of Kashmir-based journalists which was striving hard since last few months to get the ban revoked, had met J&K, CM Mehbooba Mufti on December 27 at her residence where she had informed the members that the ban on the newspaper has been removed.
“I am looking forward to reading the newspaper ‘Kashmir Reader’ tomorrow morning,” she was quoted as saying by the guild members.
Despite the anticipation of Chief Minister, the front page of the newspaper struck back with stories which were reminiscent of the work published regularly during the unrest earlier this summer. The newspaper showed how it still continues to do objective reporting despite a three-month long ban.
The editorial of the newspaper termed the ban period as a time of meditation, deep reflection on the practice and arduous evolution of English language journalism in Kashmir as well as the challenges often faced by journalists reporting in Kashmir.
“We at Kashmir Reader once again commit ourselves to continue trying to make sense of this historic phase for our readers taking into account what many might have missed out on. We will continue to be a space for nurturing a sharp discourse, reflection and commentary on what concerns the average Kashmiri in the most comprehensive manner possible, within the intellectual resources available from the entire spectrum of perspectives and opinion,” reads the editorial.
On Oct 2, about five Jammu and Kashmir police officials paid a visit to Kashmir Reader’s office in Srinagar along with an order issued by the District Magistrate Srinagar which called for an immediate ban on publishing the newspaper.
The newspaper, as per the government order, carried content which had a chance to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility in whole of J&K, and particularly in Srinagar district.
The DM had further threatened Kashmir Reader with forfeiting its printing press and other properties, in case of violation of the said order.
A day after the Kashmir Reader published for the first time in three months, valley’s popular newspaper Greater Kashmir also came out with a front-page editorial “Moment of Truth” explaining how this was a crucial time for the journalism as an institution, in Kashmir.
“The ban on Kashmir Reader stands lifted, thanks to the efforts of the Kashmir Media Fraternity. Besides being a good news, it’s a moment of reflection. It’s also an opportunity to understand the situation in which journalism functions in Kashmir,” reads the GK editorial.