After unofficial gag orders put in place soon after the execution of parliament attack convict Muhammad Afzal Guru on Saturday, news papers on Wednesday resumed publication. However, the circulation was restricted to the Srinagar city and few pockets of district Budgam only due to the strict restrictions in place.
Earlier chairperson Press Council of India, Markandey Katju had written to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, saying restraint order on publication of newspapers may be justified in the wake of Afzal Guru’s execution, but will be unreasonable if it goes on for long.
“My own thinking in the matter is that no freedom can be absolute, and hence press freedom under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution can also not be absolute, but is subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest vide Article 19(2),” Katju wrote in his letter.
Omar denied any restriction on publication of newspapers, “state had imposed no restrictions on publications of newspapers. There had been difficulties because of restrictions imposed on movement which may soon be resolved.” He said.
Although online editions of various news papers were available, with internet services being partially withdrawn, the news remained by and large inaccessible.
This is the third time in the last five years that local dailies were forced to suspend the publications due to restrictions imposed by the government. Last time papers were not published for days in 2008 and 2010.
The ‘gag’, in Kashmir has turned one of the biggest stories in the decade, a no show.