Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international journalism watchdog, has condemned media blackout imposed in Kashmir and the harassment of journalists by authorities. The organization urged the Indian government to stop using security and law and order as pretexts for cracking down on the media.
"During the night of 15 July, police raided the offices and printing presses of Kashmir newspapers including Kashmir Times, Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Observer and Rising Kashmir and seized a large number of printed copies. During the raids, 50,000 copies of the daily Kashmir Uzma were seized," RSF said in a statement today.
"Authorities on Saturday midnight gagged the Greater Kashmir newspaper by raiding the Greater Kashmir Corporate office at Rangreth on city outskirts. Police arrested the Greater Kashmir printing press foreman Biju Chaudary and two other employees. The policemen seized the plates of Greater Kashmir and more than 50,000 printed copies of Kashmir Uzma and closed down the GKC printing press," it added.
"Police also seized copies of Rising Kashmir early on Saturday and raided its press at Sheikhpora in central Kashmir's Budgam district. A police party from Budgam police raided the press to seize the copies of Rising Kashmir and other publications."
"As the staff had left after printing the copies, police took into custody all the employees including Foreman Mohammad Yousuf and asked him to identify the distribution site."
It said the distribution truck was seized and its driver detained. Staff were released after being harassed and intimidated, it added.
"The government of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti must stop justifying its flagrant violations of press freedom on the pretext of security," said Benjamin Ismail, head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific Desk.