The Kashmir editors’ guild (KEG) Sunday held a protest at the Kashmir press club here against the government’s unexplained ban on disbursal of government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader newspapers.
The protest was held on the day the Valley-based newspapers published blank front-pages as a mark of protest against the government’s move which has come in for severe criticism from the media fraternity.
Only the following message was written on the blank front-pages: “In protest against unexplained denial of government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader.”
Editors, journalists and staffers from different media houses took part in the protest and demanded immediate revocation of ban on advertisements to the two English dailies.
KEG general secretary Bashir Manzar said the guild regrets the continued silence of the governor’s administration over the unexplained and “murky” denial of the government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader.
“In the past 15 days, we have repeatedly asked the government to at least indicate the reasons for the puzzling decision, but we have not been told anything in response,” he said.
“This ad ban has the potential of impacting the state and status of journalism in Kashmir. We consider the decision against democracy and in violation of principle of free media guaranteed by the constitution. Tragically, the decision has been taken at a time when one of the elaborate electoral exercises in India is about to start,” he said.
Manzar said the guild has already approached the Press Council of India and intimated the editors’ guild of India as well.
“We see the decision as an attempt at subverting the institution of media and in continuation of what has been happened to this institution in the past 30 years,” he said.
Senior editor at Greater Kashmir, Arshad Hussain, who was part of the protest, said: “It is not advertisements that have been stopped but it’s the dissemination of information through which the government communicates with the masses on issues of development and public interest.”
“It is an information blockade,” he said.
Moazum Mohammad, a Srinagar-based journalist, said: “Measures like advertisement ban, physical attacks or stopping journalists from reporting news events are aimed at subverting the institution of media in Kashmir.”
“The advertisement ban will hit media outlets financially as well as in terms of pursuing journalism,” he said.