Authorities seal office of ‘Kashmir Times’ in Srinagar

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Jammu and Kashmir administration has sealed the office of the state’s leading newspaper Kashmir Times on Monday. The office of the Kashmir Times was running in the government-allocated Press Enclave building. The owner of the news paper claimed that no legal procedure was followed to vacate the office from him. He also says that he has not been given any reason to vacate the office.

Kashmir Times owner Anuradha Bhasin says that she was receiving reports that her office could be evacuated from the government building. But the Estate Department did not talk to us in this regard. 

We asked the Estate Department to show the order to vacate the building but we were not given anything. After that we took refuge in the court, but from there also no order has been given in this regard.

In one of her tweets she said, “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.

Vendetta for speaking out! No due process followed. How peevish! A govt policy to reserve 5 percent quota of govt accommodation for certain categories including journalists is a matter of right. It would be favour if the journalist chooses to become silent to enjoy the benefits.

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They can lock the building, not our voice.” The Kashmir Times is one of the oldest newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir. Two weeks ago, she was also evicted from her official residence in Jammu.

She had earlier filed a petition in Supreme Court against the communication blackout after abrogation of J&K’s special status last August, seeking direction to the Centre for immediate relaxation on communication blackout in the Valley.

Political parties condemn Govt’s move

The National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have also condemned the move.

Former state CM Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have also criticized the government for the decision to vacate the office of Kashmir Times. 

Omar Abdullah tweeted and wrote that ‘This shows why our’ prestigious’ publications have become the mouthpieces of the government and are only printing press releases given by the government. The value of independent journalism is that it is taken out without due process. ‘

Mehbooba Mufti wrote in the tweet that Anuradha was one of the local editors who stood against the Indian government’s illegal action for Jammu and Kashmir. The closure of his office in Srinagar is a direct retaliation by the BJP, who dare to stand against him.

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Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party also condemned the sealing of Kashmir Times newspaper’s office.

In a statement, spokesman of the Party said that the action taken by the estates department as elucidated by the Kashmir Times is unjustified. “Not following the procedural formalities the estate department’s action is totally unwarranted and illegal,” the spokesman said.

Apni Party spokesman urged the Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha to intervene into the matter and inquire into the circumstances which have led to shutting down of a prestigious newspaper institution in Srinagar.

CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami alleged that it is nothing but vendetta politics and an attempt to suppress the dissenting voices in the region.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee Vice President and former MLC G N Monga said the BJP government was leaving no stone unturned to muzzle the freedom of press.

Awami National Conference leader Muzaffar Shah said, “Kashmir stands behind Kashmir Times. We are with you Anuradha & Prabodh.”Journalists in Kashmir have expressed their solidarity with Bhasin.

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“There are renewed attempts by the state agencies to throttle Kashmir Times, a respected newspaper in both Jammu and Kashmir regions with a rich history of practicing independent journalism. In its latest move, the government agencies have sealed the paper’s Kashmir office, which would further curtail its publication and distribution in Kashmir.

Anuradha openly criticized government for abrogation of 370

Explain that after the removal of Article 370, which gave privileges to Jammu and Kashmir, when the government imposed a ban on the media there, Anuradha Bhasin openly criticized the government’s decision. Anuradha Bhasin had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in this case seeking removal of the ban on media. During the hearing of Bhasin’s petition, the Supreme Court in January directed the administration to review the sanctions.

Official reaction

According to the Indian Express , estate officials said that they had only ‘taken possession’ of the house allotted to the late founder of the newspaper, Ved Bhasin.

Mohammad Aslam, deputy director of the department, said, ” allotted two buildings – one is an office and the other was allotted as the residence of Ved Bhasin Saheb.”

He further said, ‘Since Bhasin Saheb died a few years ago, we issued them notices to vacate the house. They themselves handed over the building to us and today our officials went to take possession.”