Kashmir newspapers not to print over government ‘propaganda’

Srinagar : No newspaper will come out here on Wednesday after Srinagar-based editors and publishers on Tuesday decided not to go to print in protest against the government’s “propaganda blitzkrieg that there was no ban” on the media in the restive Kashmir Valley.

The government had imposed the ban on Saturday after police raided newspaper printing presses and their offices, seizing printing material and copies of already printed papers.

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But on Monday, the government denied it had banned Srinagar-based newspapers, saying a “communication gap had led to the mistake” though a senior cabinet minister and official spokesperson, Nayeem Akhtar, had clearly asked editors and publishers to stop printing.

The government’s volte-face has angered the editors. The owners and editors of the Srinagar newspapers met “to review the press emergency imposed by the government”.

In a statement, they said that on Monday Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s senior adviser Amitabh Mattoo approached them “insisting that it was a ‘mistake’ for which he apologized”.

“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,” the statement said.

It said that the government’s about-turn was taken “very seriously” and Mattoo was urged “that the government must own up to the ban”.

They also demanded a statement from the government “guaranteeing that the media operations” including, “the movement of staff, news gathering, printing and the distribution of the newspapers” would no longer be “hampered”.

“We have not heard anything from the government. It indicates that the government has not changed its press emergency.”

The statement added that editors and owners of the newspapers “regret that it may not be possible for us to resume publication of newspapers” on Wednesday morning.