Srinagar: The embattled Mehbooba Mufti-led government has launched a major clampdown on the local media in an apparent bid to enforce an information blockade even as the cycle of the violence consumed another life taking the death toll to over 41.
Police raided the printing presses of two major English and Urdu dailies on Friday night and seized newspaper copies and also detained some of the technical staff. Copies of several other newspapers were seized before those could be circulated on Saturday.
The raids began at midnight as police parties raided different newspaper offices in city outskirts. Police raided the corporate office of the largest circulated daily Greater Kashmir and arrested the GK Printing Press foreman Biju Chaudary and two other employees. “Policemen seized the plates of Greater Kashmir and more than 50,000 printed copies of Kashmir Uzma (Urdu daily) and closed down the GKC printing press”, Greater Kashmir posted on its website.
Police also raided the KT printing press and seized copies of another popular newspaper `Kashmir Reader’. “Police detained eight persons while seizing copies of Kashmir Reader”, Kashmir Reader posted on its website.
According to Kashmir Times, over 20 policemen raided its office at Rangreth area and arrested its printing press foreman Fayaz Ahmed and ten other employees. “Cops misbehaved with the employees and snatched their cell phones. The employees who tried to resist were beaten up by the policemen,” the newspaper said.
Police also seized the copies of another leader English daily Rising Kashmir early on Sunday morning and raided its press at Sheikhpora in central Kashmir district of Budgam.
Cable operations were also suspended late on Saturday night after authorities issued directions to the operators to stop beaming some channels. Later in the afternoon the cable operations resumed minus Pakistani news channels.
Later in the day journalists from local, national and international publications staged a peaceful sit-in at the Press Enclave against the muzzling of freedom of the press.
Kashmir-based Newspaper Editors/Owners association said the government spokesman conveyed that strict curfew will be imposed and the movement of newspaper staff and distribution of newspapers will not be possible.
“The meeting strongly condemned this formal ban of the government which is not only reprehensible but is also against the norms of a democratic setup”, said Masood Hussain, editor-in-chief of Kashmir Life.
Amid the information blockade, another bout of violence rocked Hutmulla village in border district of Kupwara leaving a protestor dead.
The incident occurred when protestors tried to torch a police post in Hatmullah area of Kupwara district. Security forces fired in retaliation in which Showkat Ahmad was killed.
Police said an unruly mob set on fire a police guard room at Wullar Vintage Park in Bandipora. “Some police and security force personnel including a sub inspector were injured in these incidents”, he said
Strictest curfew remained imposed in all the 10 districts of the Valley to prevent any escalation in the protests and street violence. Over 3,200 people including 1,500 security personnel have been injured in the street violence in the last one week.
Except BSNL, the entire mobile telephony has been suspended in Kashmir in view of nervous Friday. Mobile net continued to remain suspended for the seventh day on a trot. Only BSNL fixed line broadband services are operational in the Valley.
“PDP led government is always ready for a dialogue with all those who can build sustainable peace in Jammu and Kashmir”, said Amitabh Matoo, advisor to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.