Three days after a clampdown on news organisations in the Valley, newspapers are expected to hit stands on Tuesday, even as the chief minister’s office said it had not approved of the ban.
Political advisor to chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Amitabh Mattoo told NDTV that the CM did not approve of the restriction, and claimed it was imposed without her knowledge.
The statement, however, contradicted the government spokesperson’s confirmation of the ban on Saturday.
Senior minister Nayeem Akhtar had then told Hindustan Times that the “undesirable step was taken to ensure peace”.
“This is an extraordinary situation, very strict curfew will be imposed in the city and newspaper distribution will not be possible. So, we have asked the newspapers not to publish,” he said, claiming the step was taken “to save lives and strengthen the peace efforts”.
“Pakistan has given black day call. There is an attempt to subvert peace, it is an unusual situation so we were forced to take such an undesirable step.”
According his statement, the ban was to last till Monday.
The gag on news media followed a week of violent unrest in the Valley, following the killing of the young Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Burhan Wani. Considered a local hero amongst many of the locals, Wani’s death sparked protests through Kashmir, the worst affected being the southern districts of Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam.
As trouble boiled over, leading to more than 40 deaths, newspaper offices were raided and printing presses were stopped.
Speaking to HT, a senior journalist for Greater Kashmir, the Valley’s largest circulating daily, confirmed that the newspaper will hit stands on Tuesday.
The news blackout isn’t the only incident the chief minister’s office claimed being unaware of. Earlier, it also stated that Mehbooba was not informed of the encounter in which Wani was killed in Kokernag village. However, former CM Omar Abdullah quickly dismissed the claim, saying the chief minister is informed of every encounter involving a high profile killing.