As the Internet and cable television operations were restored and the newspaper offices functioned on Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah informed Press Council of India chairman Justice Markandey Katju that there was “no media gag” in the State after Afzal Guru’s execution on Saturday last.
Even as the Department of Information did not issue any clarification or contradiction till late on Tuesday, highly placed sources in the government said the Chief Minister had written to Mr. Katju that there was no ban or censorship on publication of newspapers, cable television operations or social media.
President of Kashmir Press Association Ghulam Hassan Kaloo told The Hindu that he wrote a letter to Mr. Katju and complained to him that an “informal ban” had been imposed on publication and circulation of newspapers and other modes of media in Kashmir immediately after Guru’s execution on Saturday.
“Justice Katju forwarded my complaint to the Chief Minister with his note, asking him to clarify the situation and revoke any ban on the media. He sent me a copy of the communication today [Tuesday]”, Mr. Kaloo, who heads an association of editors and owners of 234 publications, said.
‘Absolutely no ban’
Even as Mr. Kaloo maintained that the Chief Minister’s response to Mr. Katju’s letter was “still awaited,” sources in the government insisted that Mr. Abdullah had immediately clarified to the Press Council of India chief that there was “absolutely no ban.”
Even Mr. Kaloo admitted that there was “no proper, written order.” He and a number of other local editors said that Station House Officers in uniform had appeared at some printing presses on Saturday and asked the staff to “avoid printing the dailies” as there would be “complete curfew in the valley tomorrow” and the newspapers could not be distributed.
“It would have subjected us to loss. We stopped the publication. Later we learnt that Kashmir Images and Roshni newspapers had published but police seized their bundles in the morning and physically stopped the staff from distributing the dailies,” Mr. Kaloo said.
“It was equal to a ban and media gag.”