The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday denied that it ordered a ban on printing and circulation of newspapers in Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti reportedly told Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu that the state government has not imposed any curbs on the local newspapers.
Newspapers have not hit the stands in the Valley since July 17 and Srinagar-based journalists have also staged demonstrations against the apparent media gag order.
The Valley is under strict curfew since July 8 after a top commander of militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen was killed, which sparked protests in which nearly 45 people were killed.
On Monday, Amitabh Matoo, adviser to the chief minister, also denied any order from the government on curbing operations of the media in the state.
However, editors and management of the local dailies as well as cable TV operators said that they were directed by a government spokesperson to stop printing and broadcasting.
According to the media houses, the J&K government personnel approached them on the intervening night of July 15 and July 16 and seized the copies of printed newspapers from their offices and employees.
Some newspapers carried out blank pages in their internet editions as a mark of protest, calling the ban undemocratic.
Journalists based in India and elsewhere have come out strongly against the newspaper ban in Kashmir calling it an information blackout that would only deepen the crisis.
Former chief minister and J&K National Conference president Omar Abdullah took a dig at the state government's stance by saying that if it was a mere miscommunication from the state government, why was the ban not lifted earlier.
"Miscommunication". If that is all it was why did it take 48 hours to correct? https://t.co/0lUFZGzjXU
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) July 18, 2016