The Jammu and Kashmir government has banned the publication of Srinagar-based English daily Kashmir Reader calling it a threat to the “public tranquility”. The Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone on Sunday evening issued the order asking the newspaper to stop its publication forthwith.
“I District Magistrate Srinagar do hereby direct the printer, published and owner of daily Kashmir Reader to abstain from printing and publishing of the newspaper namely Kashmir Reader till further orders so that disturbance of public tranquility is prevented,” the order reads.
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Defending Lone’s decision, Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar said: “Deputy Commissioner must have acted on some complaint against the newspaper”.
Saying that the newspaper contains “material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility”, the deputy commissioner, in his two-page order, has invoked section 144 of CrPC, Section 3 of Newspapers Incitement of Offences Act 1971 and Section 10 Press and Publication Act of 1989 to ban the publication of the daily newspaper.
“It has been observed that the contents published in the above newspaper is of such nature that can easily cause incitement of acts of violence and disturbance of public tranquility in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and Srinagar district in particular,” the order reads. “It has become expedient in the interest of prevention of this anticipated breach of public tranquility to forthwith take necessary precautionary measures”.
The newspaper, published from Srinagar, was launched six years ago and is known for its anti-establishment stand.
“We received this order and we have not been verbally told anything,” Hilal Ahmad Mir, Editor of Kashmir Reader told The Indian Express. “They have said we are a threat to peace. We are unable to understand, how we could be threat to peace”.
The order has not make mention of specific content that the government thinks can cause breach of peace and public tranquility in the state. “It (order to ban newspaper publication) is unacceptable and unjustifiable in a democracy,” valley’s senior journalist Yusuf Jameel told The Indian Express. “There are generalized allegations (in the order}. There is not any solid reason (for ban). They (government) should have specifically mentioned that such and such content is a threat to law”.
The government has warned the newspaper of “forfeiture of its printing press and other properties used for the purpose” if it didn’t abide by the order.
In July, government has banned the publication of newspapers from valley for several days terming it a “reluctant decision” and a “temporary measure to address an extra-ordinary situation”. After facing a severe backlash, the government had put blame on the police for taking the decision and asked the newspapers to resume publications.