The Editors Guild of India has urged J-K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to “reconsider the order to ban the publication” of Kashmir Reader, a Srinagar-based English daily. The J-K government banned the publication of the newspaper on October 2, accusing it of publishing “content that incites violence”.
“The Editors Guild of India has always championed the cause of the freedom of the press and believes that any move to obstruct, infringe or impose a ban on the press is an assault on democracy itself,” a statement issued by the President of Guild Raj Chengappa said. “The Editors Guild of India requests the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir to go into the complaint that the ban was ‘arbitrary’ and that ‘no notice was served to him before publication”.
While asking Chief Minister Mufti to reconsider the “order to ban the publication”, the Guild has also put the onus on editors to uphold the best journalistic standards of fairness and balance while publishing news.
On October 2, the J-K government ordered ban on the publication of Kashmir Reader. The ban order issued by Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone read that the newspaper contains “material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility”.
“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”.
Valley journalists and editors have been protesting against the ban on the publication of the newspaper terming it “arbitrary” and as “against the spirit of democracy and freedom of press”.
In fact, the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) had sought the intervention of the Press Council of India and warned of “direct action” if the government failed to revoke the ban immediately.
“The ban, without any prior notice to the printer, publisher and owner of Kashmir Reader is against the basic spirit of democracy as well as the freedom of press,” the Kashmir Editors Guild said. “The government order, banning the newspaper, is vague and unclear about the charges for which such a harsh step has been taken”.