Srinagar office of Kashmir Times sealed by J&K admin

Srinagar office of Kashmir Times sealed by Jammu and Kashmir admin; editor alleges 'lack of due process'

Estates Department said that Kashmir Times was occupying two quarters in Srinagar’s Press Enclave, of which one was taken over “amicably”

Credit: Twitter/AnuradhaBhasin.

Jammu and Kashmir administration has sealed the Srinagar office of Kashmir Times, one of the oldest English dailies of the erstwhile state, prompting its publisher to say that the action was “vendetta for speaking out.”

Several politicians of regional parties came in support of the newspaper while terming the government action as an effort to muzzle press freedom in the region.

“Today (Monday), Estates Deptt locked our office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, same way as I was evicted from a flat in Jammu, where my belongings including valuables were handed over to ‘new allottee’,” tweeted Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of the Kashmir Times.

Earlier last week, Bhasin’s government accommodation in Jammu was sealed without sending any notice. She had accused the brother of a former legislator from Jammu of forcibly barging into her government-allotted accommodation last week and vandalising her valuables.

The DAVP advertisements of the newspaper were stopped in 2010, Bhasin said, adding that the J&K’s information department had also stopped sending advertisements too. “The day I went to court last year, that very day, the state government advertisements to Kashmir Times were stopped,” she said.

Bhasin has been a vocal critic of the government over communication curbs since the special status of J&K under Article 370 was revoked and the region was put under a lockdown last year on August 5. She had filed a petition in the Supreme Court demanding the restoration of modes of communication and the taking of necessary steps for ensuring free and safe movement of journalists and media personnel.

Bhasin said the Srinagar edition of Kashmir Times was not being published since March this year due to Covid lockdown.

The office of Kashmir Times has been sealed days after the government-allotted office of Kashmir News Service (KNS), a local news gathering agency, was sealed in Srinagar without serving them an eviction notice.

However, Deputy Director Estates Department Mohammad Aslam said that Kashmir Times was occupying two quarters in Srinagar’s Press Enclave, of which one was taken over “amicably”.

“This quarter had actually been allotted to late Ved Bhasin, the founder of Kashmir Times and father of Anuradha Bhasin, in his individual capacity, and after his death its allotment expired and was cancelled,” he said.

While reacting to the sealing of Kashmir Times office, former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted: “This explains why some of our “esteemed” publications have decided to become Government mouthpieces, printing only government press handouts. The price of independent reportage is to be evicted without due process.”

Another former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti while condemning the government’s action tweeted: “Shutting down her (Bhasin’s) office in Srinagar is straight out of BJP’s vendetta playbook to settle scores with those who dare to disagree.”