India stops Kashmir newspapers from printing amid unrest

Published July 17, 2016
Kashmiri journalists hold placards as they protest against the government in Srinagar, India- held Kashmir.─AP
Kashmiri journalists hold placards as they protest against the government in Srinagar, India- held Kashmir.─AP

SRINAGAR: Authorities in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) have shut down printing presses and temporarily banned newspapers from publishing in a sweeping information blackout after days of anti-India protests left dozens of people dead in the region.

State government spokesman and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar said the measures were aimed at saving lives and strengthening peace efforts. The government says 36 people — 35 civilians and a police officer — have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, while local human rights groups and newspapers say at least 40 have died.

Related: Death toll hits 38 as clashes spread in Indian-held Kashmir

A strict curfew was in effect in troubled areas for the ninth straight day Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of people trying to cope with shortages of food and other necessities. Tens of thousands of Indian government troops patrolled mostly deserted streets in the region, where shops and businesses remained closed.

Since 1989, more than 68,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Indian rule and the subsequent Indian military crackdown.

Unwilling to take any chances, Indian authorities appear to be persisting with their clampdown to avoid aggravating tensions in view of Pakistan's call for a "black day" on Tuesday to protest India's handling of dissent in Kashmir.

Related: PM slams Indian atrocities in held Kashmir

On Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Pakistan would continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris. He said he called for observing the "black day" to express solidarity with "Kashmiris who are facing atrocities at the hands of Indian forces."

The largest street protests in recent years in IHK erupted last week after Indian troops killed the popular young leader of the largest separatist group fighting against Indian rule in the region.

Information has been thin, with most cellular and internet services, as well as landline phone access, not working in the troubled areas, except for Srinagar, the main city in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Police began raiding newspaper offices and seizing tens of thousands of local newspapers on Saturday, imposing a ban on their printing until Monday. They also detained scores of printing press workers.

Newspaper editors denounced the government action and termed it "gagging and enforcing emergency on media."

Related: Information blackout in held Kashmir

The Kashmir Reader, a daily English newspaper, said on its website Sunday that "the government has banned local media publications in Kashmir," and called on its readers to "bear with us in this hour of crisis." Most English dailies, however, continued uploading news onto their websites.

Editors and journalists held a protest march in Srinagar late Saturday, carrying placards reading "Stop censorship" and "We want freedom of speech."

Meanwhile, anti-India protests have persisted, marked by clashes between rock-throwing Kashmiris and troops firing live ammunition, pellet guns and tear gas.

Clashes were reported in several places in northern Kashmir on Sunday, and at least six people were injured, police said.

Also Read: India-held Kashmir celebrates Eid with Pakistan

In the latest fatality late Saturday, government forces fired bullets at villagers who threw stones at them and tried to torch a police station in a remote village in the northern Kupwara area, close to the highly militarized Line of Control dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan, a police official said.

One young villager was killed and at least two other people were wounded in the firing, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

Authorities on Sunday extended the summer break for schools and colleges for a week, until July 24.

Opinion

Time to wake up

Time to wake up

The criticism reflects our failure to counter rising religious intolerance and bigotry, and also exposes a diplomatic debacle.
Which nationalism?
Updated 05 May 2021

Which nationalism?

After decades of apparent self-sufficiency, India has again begun to ask for and receive vaccines and other necessary material.
The TLP and elections
Updated 04 May 2021

The TLP and elections

Pakistan has always made space for Islamist parties electorally; they have rarely been successful enough to be a national force.

Editorial

05 May 2021

Path of growth

FINANCE MINISTER Shaukat Tarin finally specified the future direction that the country’s economic policy will take...
05 May 2021

Human rights 2020

THE human rights situation in Pakistan, almost predictably bleak every year, was deeply impacted in 2020 by an...
Unreasonable behaviour
Updated 05 May 2021

Unreasonable behaviour

Usman Buzdar should reprimand Dr Awan for her coarse behaviour and make sure she tenders a public apology.
Electoral reforms
Updated 04 May 2021

Electoral reforms

A rigging-proof system, which cannot be manipulated through technical delays, is possible if stakeholders sit together.
04 May 2021

Unmet tax targets

THE FBR has increased its tax collection by 14pc to Rs3.8tr this year during the 10-month period from July to April...
04 May 2021

Routine immunisation

AS countries around the world grapple with the deadly third wave of Covid-19 and we witness the horrific devastation...