Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday condemned the restrictions on the news programmes of local media, equating the ban with "the curbs enforced under the martial law and emergency situations".
"If broadcasting of news programmes in one part of the state is good, how can it be bad in the other? The restriction on cable operators not only tantamounts to the violation of democratic rights, but renders hundreds of youth associated with the business to the verge of unemployment," she said.
The PDP president demanded that the government should immediately grant permission to the local cable operators to broadcast news programmes.
Speaking to a delegation of cable operators of Kashmir at her residence, Mehbooba described their contribution "valuable".
"People of Kashmir cannot forget the contribution of local cable operators while witnessing testing and hard times. Many people associated with this business lost their lives while performing their professional duties".
Expressing disappointment over the government's ban, she said, "With local news channels off air, the government has not only censored media, but denied people their constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression,"
The PDP president said instead of supporting the cable network business in disseminating information in the state, the government seemed in a denial mode.
"At the behest of some vested interests, these cable operators in Kashmir are being intimidated and harassed. Government offices should not be misused for practice of intimidation and censorship," alleged Mehbooba.
She assured the aggrieved cable operators that she will take up their problems with the union ministry of information and broadcasting in order to mitigate their sufferings.
News on local cable channels remains banned since 2010 when street protests were at its peak in the Kashmir Valley. The cable operators allege Jammu-based operators were allowed to function normally while Kashmir-based faced a ban.