Govt ad ban: Kashmir newspapers publish blank pages

Govt ad ban: Kashmir newspapers publish blank pages

Major newspapers in Kashmir on Sunday published blank front pages in protest against the government’s decision to “stop advertisements” to two Srinagar-based English dailies. (Image courtesy Twitter)

Major newspapers in Kashmir on Sunday published blank front pages in protest against the government’s decision to “stop advertisements” to two Srinagar-based English dailies.

“In protest against the unexplained denial of advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader,” read the blank front pages of the newspapers published on Sunday.

The decision to come out with blank front pages was taken by the Kashmir Editors Guild (KEG), who also held a protest at Kashmir Press Club, Srinagar against the government's decision. Senior editors and journalists took part in the protest to demand revocation of ban on advertisements to the two English dailies.

A KEG member said that the government was yet to respond to their queries over the ban on advertisements to the dailies. In February, the Jammu and Kashmir administration, under Governor Satya Pal Malik, had suspended advertising to the two newspapers without specifying a reason.

While there is no written order, the newspapers say they have been verbally told by the J&K’s Directorate of Information that the government has decided to stop advertisements to their publications.

The Kashmir Editor’s Guild has asked the government to at least explain the reason for stopping the advertisements to the two newspapers. The government is yet to come up with a reason, it says.

“At a time when the world’s largest democracy is readying for one of the major electoral exercises on earth, the Kashmir Editors Guild is lamenting over the continued denial and unexplained halt to the rightful disbursal of government advertisements to Kashmir’s two major daily newspapers – Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader,” Kashmir Editor’s Guild said in a statement last week.

“The enigmatic decision is directly hitting the constitutional guarantees that encourage free media in democratic societies,” it said.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti while criticising the government for blocking advertisement tweeted: “Greater Kashmir is one of the most popular local dailies of J&K. Centre’s decision to stop ads to it should be viewed in the context of their attitude towards press & electronic media in general. Kowtow to their warped agenda & sing praises. Or else suffer (sic).”