Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Monday condemned the restrictions on the local media's news broadcasting programmes, equating the ban with "the curbs enforced under 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 part? The restriction on cable operators not only tantamount to the violation of democratic rights but it has rendered 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 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".
Expressed disappointment over the government's ban, she said, "With local news channels off-the-air, the government has not only censored media but denied people their constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression."
The PDP president said that instead of supporting and facilitating the cable network business for transparency and dissemination of information in the state, the government seems in 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 ministry of information and broadcasting New Delhi in order to mitigate their sufferings.
News on local cable channels remains banned since 2010 when street protests were at its peak in Kashmir valley. The cable operators allege Jammu-based operators were allowed to function normally while Kashmir-based were completely facing a ban.