The Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to revoke its ban on Srinagar-based English daily Kashmir Reader and allow it to resume publication after shutting it down for three months.
“The newspaper had made a representation before the government seeking permission to resume its publication. The case was examined and the government was satisfied that there is no further need to disallow its publication,’’ Director Information, J&K government, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary told The Indian Express. “A formal order in this case will be issued in a day or two.”
In her interview with The Indian Express last week, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that her government would lift the ban on the newspaper.
On October 2, the state government had banned the publication of Kashmir Reader, calling it a threat to “public tranquility”. In a two-page order, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone had accused that the newspaper contains “material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility” and 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 its publication.
Though the government had made serious allegations against the newspaper, its ban order had not listed any specific content that the government thought caused breach of peace and public tranquillity or incited violence. The government also had not provided the newspaper with an opportunity to respond to the charges before shutting down its operations.
In fact, the government had warned the newspaper of “forfeiture of its printing press and other properties used for the purpose” if it did not abide by the order.
The decision to ban the newspaper was widely condemned. The journalist fraternity in Kashmir hit the streets to protest the ban while the body of editors of the newspaper took up the case with the government. Editors Guild of India too had issued a statement questioning the ban.
Ahead of the ban on Kashmir Reader, the J&K government had stopped the publication of all valley-based newspapers for several days, which was revoked after severe backlash.
Sources in the government told The Indian Express that the ban imposed on the newspaper has already lapsed. “Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmad Lone had invoked section 144 of CrPC, which was valid only for two months. He had written to the Home department to extend it further but the government decided to allow it to lapse,” an official said. “Technically, there is no ban on the newspaper any longer and they can resume publication forthwith.”
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