SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir’s two former Chief Minister’s Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have thrown their weight behind the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) demand on two newspapers which are facing an informal ban on government advertisements. In separate tweets, both have demanded immediate revocation of the order banning government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader.
Taking to social networking site Twitter Omar wrote: “A development that has got almost no coverage outside of the valley. The government is attempting to choke the media by denying them advertising revenues. I hope the Centre & State immediately reverse this decision of trying to silence the fourth estate.”
“Greater Kashmir is one of the most popular local dailies of J&K. Centre’s decision to stop ads to it should be viewed in the context of their attitude towards press & electronic media in general. Kowtow to their warped agenda & sing praises. Or else suffer,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted.
The tweets from two senior leaders of two major political parties came within hours after the Kashmir newspapers published with their blank front pages in protest against, what KEG says, “unexplained” decision.
The KEG put the newspapers on display in the Aiwan-e-Sahafat, the Srinagar Press Club where its executives talked to the media as well.
“KEG regrets the continued silence of the governor’s administration over the unexplained and murky denial of the government advertisements to the two major newspapers of Kashmir – Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader,” KEG general secretary Bashir Manzar said. “In the last 15 days, we had repeatedly asked the government to, at least, indicate the reasons for the puzzling decision but we have not been fortunate in getting even an iota in this regard.”
He said the intervention has the potential of impacting the state and status of journalism in Kashmir.
“We consider the decision against democracy and in violation of the free media that is guaranteed by the constitution,” he added.
Interestingly, the decision has been taken at a time when one of the elaborate electoral exercises in India is about to start. The Guild, he said, has already moved to the Press Council of India and has intimated the Editors Guild of India as well.
Manzar said that publishing with blank front pages on Sunday is an act of protest to convey the readers and the authorities about the puzzling decision-making. The Guild earlier said the decision was an attempt at subversion of the institution of media and was not delinked with what has been done to the institution in last 30 years.