Kashmir newspaper banned for ‘inciting violence’

The government in the Himalayan region bans Kashmir Reader newspaper as anti-India protests continue to take place.

Indian army camp attacked by the militants in Baramulla
An Indian soldier was reportedly killed on Monday when armed fighters attacked an army camp in northwestern Kashmir [EPA]

The Jammu and Kashmir state government has banned local newspaper Kashmir Reader accusing the daily of publishing material that “tends to incite acts of violence”, the editor of the newspaper has told Al Jazeera.

Hilal Mir, editor of the newspaper, on Monday said that a group of police officers entered the publication’s premises late on Sunday with an order from the Srinagar District Magistrate to halt publishing. 

“Yesterday evening five or six policemen came to our office and handed over the order to stop publication of the newspaper. We don’t know why, the situation is not our creation. Whatever is happening we are reporting that [and] we are reporting like any other newspaper.

“For now we have a meeting of Editors and publishers in the evening, then we will proceed accordingly. We can take the legal course as well. We want to know why it happened,” he said.

According to the court order, a portion of which was published on Kashmir Reader’s website, the newspaper was banned because it contained “such material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquillity”.

“Therefore, it has become expedient in the interest of prevention of this anticipated breach of public tranquillity to forthwith take necessary precautionary measures,” the order said “and asked printing presses to stop printing Kashmir Reader with immediate effect”.

The ban on Kashmir Reader comes as the people’s uprising against Indian rule in Indian-administered Kashmir continues unabated since the killing of popular rebel leader Burhan Wani in July. At least 83 people have been killed and 12,000 others injured since the uprising began.

Another English language local newspaper, Greater Kashmir, reported on Monday that 100 protesters were injured in clashes between protesters and Indian armed forces over the weekend. On Monday, an Indian soldier was killed when armed fighters attacked an Indian military camp in Baramulla, a town 50km northwest of the state capital, Srinagar.

The attack comes three days after the Indian army said it had carried out a “surgical strike” in the region and destroyed “terrorist launching pads” used by the fighters with support from Pakistan.

Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, said that Pakistan government continues to refute claims that any such “surgical strike” took place.

Tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir have also reached extraordinary levels with the killing of 18 Indian soldiers in September, blamed on Pakistan-based armed groups.

 The statement orders a ban on the printing and publishing of the newspaper
 The statement orders a ban on the printing and publishing of the newspaper “till further orders so that disturbance of public tranquillity is prevented”  [Kashmir Reader]

The attempt to gag Kashmir Reader comes after a series of attempts by the state government to clamp down on media and communication in the valley. Since July, mobile phone services have been intermittently cut, the internet has been blocked and newspapers have been routinely raided by police.

In July, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) held a protest in New Delhi against the “clampdown” on the media in Kashmir after the state government were found to be prohibiting publicaiton of newspapers and confiscating printed materials.

“The J&K Police action in the name of volatile situation in the Valley is an attack on the freedom of the media and unacceptable in a democracy … The IJU demands that the police should desist from such illegal and unconstitutional actions immediately and allow the press to function unhindered,” the IJU statement said.

Al Jazeera was unable to reach the Jammu and Kashmir State government or the ruling People’s Democratic Party for comment.

Kashmir is divided into two parts, one administered by India and the other one by Pakistan.

India claims Pakistan has been supporting a violent secessionist movement in Kashmir – a charge Islamabad has consistently denied. It calls Kashmiri rebels freedom fighters.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in the fighting.

Additional reporting by Rifat Fareed in Srinagar

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies