No newspapers from Kashmir; journalists say media gagged

Srinagar, July 9 (Calcutta Tube) No newspaper was published from this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir for the second day Friday due to the continued curfew and alleged media restrictions in the valley following violent protests and civilian killings by security forces.

Reacting sharply to the denial of curfew passes to reporters, the journalist associations in the valley Friday decided to suspend the publication of newspapers on Saturday.

The decision comes after the government issued curfew passes to select editors and accredited journalists, which the newspaper unions in a joint statement here described as ‘insufficient’.

The five newspaper organisations in a statement decried the government’s ‘discriminatory’ attitude towards Kashmir-based journalists.

‘We are denied access to information and events but the journalists coming from Delhi were treated as special guests and all facilities are being extended to them,’ the statement said.

It said that some ‘mediapersons were beaten and forced to remain in-doors. Even today one senior journalist, Riyaz Masroor, was beaten and left with a fractured arm.’

It said the government had issued a few curfew passes to newspaper editors and a few accredited journalists but ‘it is not an editor who can bring out a newspaper alone’.

‘Issuing few curfew passes is a mere eye-wash,’ it said.

A senior journalist, Ahmed Ali Fayyaz, said it was for the first time in over 20 years of conflict that the government in Jammu and Kashmir has ‘imposed media emergency’.

‘Police and paramilitary forces prevented all mediapersons of Kashmir from moving around and discharging their professional duties,’ Fayyaz wrote on his blog.

Bashir Manzar, editor of the daily Kashmir Images, said it was the second time in the recent history of the Kashmir Valley that not a single newspaper has hit the stands for two days. Earlier, during the 2008 riots Kashmir newspapers were shut for five days due to strict curfew.

Press in the conflict-ridden valley has been working in difficult circumstances for the last two decades of militancy.

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