Media gagged in Kashmir

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Old 08-Jul-2010
Media gagged in Kashmir

Srinagar, July 7

The government today imposed a gag on the media in Kashmir as journalists representing various local, national and international newspapers and organisations were not allowed to move out and perform their professional duties.

The Kashmir valley has been witnessing violent protests for the past few days and the killing of four persons yesterday has further escalated tension in the valley, forcing the authorities to call in the Army to control the situation.

The authorities today stopped mediapersons from discharging their professional duties following which the offices of most of the local, national and international news organisations remained closed. “This is for the first time since the start of the turmoil in the Kashmir valley that our office remained closed today. Even during the peak days of militancy we never faced this kind of situation,” AM Sofi, Kashmir bureau chief of the PTI, told The Tribune.

He said he was stopped at Amira Kadal and was not allowed to proceed towards his office located adjacent to Lal Chowk. “I was stopped at Amira Kadal and was told that instructions had been issued to them (security forces) not to allow anyone beyond that point, so I had to return,” Sofi said. “We have been confined to our houses as our curfew passes have been cancelled and no fresh passes are being issued. This is for the first time that we were not being allowed to discharge our professional duties,” said Aarish Bilal, Jammu and Kashmir bureau chief of Live India news channel.

Most of the local newspapers being published from Srinagar remained closed as their staff could not reach office. Even this correspondent was stopped by the security forces from going out and was not allowed to move beyond a certain point. “I told you that nobody is allowed to move. You want me to be harsh with you……. return,” an Army officer said.

The media people said despite having curfew passes issued by the district administration they were not allowed to go out of their houses. “The decision has been taken at the top level not to allow mediapersons, as their presence during protests escalates tension. So it has been decided to cancel all passes already issued to them,” a senior state officer said. Yesterday, some photojournalists were beaten up by the security forces while they were covering a protest at Bamaloo and even today the police entered the Press Enclave, snatched cameras and thrashed some of the mediapersons.

The DC, Srinagar, Mehraj Ahmed Kakroo, said as the Army had staged a flag march the curfew passes were not being entertained.

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