It was mistake to ban media, says Mehbooba govt

It was mistake to ban media, says Mehbooba govt
A photo taken at the surgical ICU hospital in Srinagar on July 16, 2016 shows the X-ray of 14-year-old Kashmiri Muslim girl, Insha Malik, showing the multiple pellet marks on her face that have left her blind in both eyes, after she was shot by Indian security forces. (AFP)
Updated 21 July 2016

It was mistake to ban media, says Mehbooba govt

It was mistake to ban media, says Mehbooba govt

SRINAGAR: Authorities lifted a three-day publication ban in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, but newspapers delayed print runs due to uncertainties about the restrictions imposed during massive anti-India protests that have left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured.
Newspapers owners and editors said the Kashmir government had yet to guarantee smooth media operations in the prevailing tense situation.
The government made a verbal apology and called the ban a “mistake,” but then authorities “resorted to a propaganda blitzkrieg insisting that there was no ban,” said Masood Hussain, a senior journalist and editor of the English weekly Kashmir Life, after the meeting with others in the local media industry. “It indicates that the government has not changed its press emergency.”
He said the editors would review the situation Wednesday. “Government must own the ban and issue 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,” Hussain said. The state government’s political adviser, Amitabh Mattoo, said the decision to temporarily ban newspaper publication was made without the knowledge of the state’s top elected official, Mehbooba Mufti.
“Sometimes decisions taken at a local level is not something the highest authority approves of. There was some miscommunication,” he said.
“We need to know who took the decision on the ban. We will take action once the crisis is over,” he told New Delhi-based NDTV news channel late Monday.
Kashmir’s largest street protests in years erupted more than a week ago after Indian troops killed the popular, young leader of the largest rebel group fighting against Indian rule in the disputed region. Violent clashes between rock-throwing Kashmiris and troops firing live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas have persisted despite a strict curfew in place for an eleventh day Tuesday. Streets were mostly deserted otherwise, and with shops still closed, people were trying to cope with shortages of food and other necessities.
State government spokesman and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar had said Friday the ban was aimed at “saving lives and strengthening peace efforts.” Police raided newspaper offices, detained printing press workers and seized tens of thousands of local newspapers. The detained workers have since been freed.
In addition to the printing ban, cellular and Internet services were absent and landline phone access limited throughout Kashmir, except in its main city of Srinagar, creating an information void.
Hussain, the journalist, told AP earlier that the communication and information blockade was powering rumors.