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Kashmir newspaper ordered to suspend printing

Kashmiri journalists protest in support of the
Kashmiri journalists protest in support of the "Kashmir Reader", in Srinagar, 4 October 2016

AP Photo/Dar Yasin

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 3 October 2016.

Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir should immediately reverse an order to suspend publication of the Kashmir Reader newspaper, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police arrived at the daily newspaper's office with an order to stop publishing yesterday.

"Yesterday, around five or six policemen delivered the order at our office," Hilal Mir, editor of the newspaper, told CPJ by phone today. "The order invokes local press laws and says that law and order in the state will be disturbed if the newspaper is allowed to be published."

A copy of the order dated September 30, 2016 from the district magistrate posted on Kashmir Reader's website reads, "On the basis of credible inputs it has been observed that the...Kashmir Reader...contains such material and content which tends to incite acts of violence and disturb public peace and tranquility," but cited no specific examples of the newspaper's coverage. The newspaper complied with the order, but continues to publish on its website.

Mir told CPJ he did not know what stories particularly concerned the government, but that he believed the "credible inputs" the magistrate referenced were from the state director of information's office. More than 50 journalists from several publications today protested the order in a march from Srinagar's press enclave, which houses newspaper offices, to the office of the director of information.

"Censoring the press will not put an end to the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir," CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler said from Washington. "The Kashmir Reader should be allowed to resume publication without delay."

Nayeem Akhtar, a spokesman for the Jammu and Kashmir government, said that that he was "unaware" of the order, and that it might have been an "administrative decision," according to a report in the Greater Kashmir newspaper.

Mir said that the local guild of newspaper editors and owners would approach the government tomorrow to resolve the issue.

"They will either approach the chief secretary or the top official in the information department. The idea is to try a reconciliatory approach," he said.

The order is the latest in a series of attempts to censor the press in Jammu and Kashmir since protests erupted in July over the killing of Burhan Wani, a commander with the Hizbul Mujahideen, a pro-independence militant group. On August 29, two journalists from the English-language daily Kashmir Observer - managing editor Farooq Shah and sub-editor Muntazeer Yaseen - were attacked in separate incidents in Srinagar.

Police in July raided the offices of newspapers, including Greater Kashmir, Rising Kashmir, Daily Kashmir Images, Kashmir Observer, and Kashmir Reader, halting printing presses and confiscating printed newspapers due for delivery, CPJ reported at the time.

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