In what is referred to as a brazen attack on press freedom, the Jammu and Kashmir government has banned three major newspapers of the valley from receiving government-sponsored advertisements.
The ban was initially imposed in February on two English newspapers – Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader. Later it got extended on Tuesday to the popular vernacular Urdu daily ‘Kashmir Uzma.’
The Kashmir Editors’ Guild (KEG) on Tuesday published a note condemning the ban. “The ban, as we have conveyed earlier, is a continuation of the onslaught that the Kashmir media has been subjected to, since 1989 in particular. The onslaught has led to the untold miseries to the institution of media and the shaking of the faith in the institution of democracy,” the statement read.
“The ban, as usual, is unexplained and implemented without conveying the decision to the newspaper,” it added. The note further says that the “ban has led to untold miseries to the media and the shaking of the institution’s faith in democracy.”
The KEG held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the fresh ban order. The newspapers in Kashmir primarily rely on government ads for revenue. This is due to the lack of a corporate sector in the region. The ban is in effect amid the electoral process that is governed by the Moral Code of Conduct. However, the government hasn’t released any formal orders regarding the ban, the statement said.
The editors called for the support of media houses in other parts of the country and requested to take note of the ban in a more serious manner. The Guild has approached the Press Council of India and will send yet another communication at the earliest, it said.
Greater Kashmir, however, has a history of getting banned from receiving government advertisements. The first was in 2008 that lasted about three months and then again in 2011.