SRINAGAR: On a day when Kashmir newspapers published blank front pages, editors and journalists assembled at Press Club Srinagar on Sunday to demand that the J&K government stop denying advertisements to Kashmir Reader and Greater Kashmir. The Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG) had organised the protest gathering to defend the institution of free media and to speak in support of the two newspapers.
The KEG said that in February this year, the Jammu and Kashmir administration under Governor Satya Pal Malik stopped government advertisements, without specifying any reason, to Kashmir Reader and Greater Kashmir.
“In the past 15 days we have been asking the government why this decision was taken, but there has been no response from the government so far,” said KEG vice-president Bashir Manzar.
“The decision is undemocratic and unconstitutional and can impact the status of journalism in the valley,” he said.
The front pages of all the major newspapers published from Srinagar were blank on Sunday and carried a small caption: “In protest against the unexplained denial of government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader”.
Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti both demanded immediate revocation of the unofficial ban on government advertisements to the two newspapers.
Omar Abdullah tweeted: “A development that has got almost no coverage outside of the valley. The government is attempting to choke the media by denying them advertising revenues. I hope the Centre & State immediately reverse this decision of trying to silence the fourth estate.”
Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Greater Kashmir is one of the most popular local dailies of J&K. Centre’s decision to stop ads to it should be viewed in the context of their attitude towards press & electronic media in general. Kowtow to their warped agenda & sing praises. Or else suffer.”