Govt throttling democracy by stopping ads to Kashmir newspapers: Farooq

Govt throttling democracy by stopping ads to Kashmir newspapers: Farooq

SRINAGAR: Member of Parliament from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah on Saturday called for the revocation of the unofficial ban on issuing of government advertisements to Kashmir newspapers.
He said this while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the official Martyrs’ Day function at Naqshband Sahab shrine in downtown Srinagar. Along with other members of the party he heads, the National Conference, Abdullah laid floral wreaths on the gravestone of the martyrs of July 31, 1931, and prayed for their souls.
Later, talking to reporters he said, “Putting curbs on the press is analogous to throttling democracy. It must end without delay. The ban on government ads to various local dailies should be revoked,” he said.
The J&K Government has stopped issuing advertisements to Kashmir Reader, Greater Kashmir and its sister publication Kashmir Uzma, for many months now. Though there is no official order from the Governor’s office, the information department has been verbally conveyed by the Governor’s office to not issue advertisements to these three newspapers.
“The media plays the crucial role of gatekeeping and of exposing the ills of society. It also exposes the loopholes in a democratic system, which ultimately helps the government to undo the wrongdoings, thereby making the administration more responsive and efficient,” Abdullah said in defence of the press.
“However, the situation is much different in this part of the world. Today, we are being denied a vibrant press. The sole reason behind the curbs is to pressurise the media to not report the issues of greater public importance. An unconventional version of democracy is being forced on us. All this is being done to suit the purposes of forces that are inimical to the special status of the state. The reason behind such unscrupulous and undemocratic gags on local dailies is to impede their impartial working,” he said.
The NC president said that people of J&K, particularly of Kashmir valley, are snowed under relentless gags, diktats, bans, and curfews. “The gap between the government and the people has increased. On the one hand we are fighting for our identity while on the other hand we are being denied our due share in development. Today the people of Kashmir are feeling alienated in their own land,” he said.
Drawing a historical parallel, Abdullah said that the firing on civilians on July 13, 1931, was also due to growing unrest among people against an oppressive and tyrannical regime.