The controversy around an anonymous high-level official's newspaper column, exposing the government's inefficiency during floods, on Wednesday saw the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) throwing its weight behind the Valley-based newspaper and lashing out at the decision to send a legal notice.
"The BJP strongly condemned the legal notice served to (the newspaper) Greater Kashmir by the state government. By sending such notices the state government wants to intimidate the media," said BJP spokesman Khalid Jehangir.
The government on Saturday served a notice to the newspaper following a write-up written by anonymous bureaucrat claiming that it took the officials three days to locate a magistrate to open a granary in south Kashmir following floods and the official was busy having lunch, while the Union minister was waiting for a brief on the floods. Unprecedented floods on September 6-7 saw paralysing of the state machinery for days together.
The government issued a legal notice to the newspaper for publishing, when it claims, "false, fabricated, untrue and baseless write-up to defame the government and its functionaries in the eyes of the public". It served a show cause notice.
The government decision was assailed by the BJP stating that "the chief minister by issuing such notices wants to stop the flow of information so that a lid is kept over the failure of his government."
"When civil administration was in a deep slumber, the newspapers, NGOs, local volunteers, NDRF, army and officers of Jammu and Kashmir Police reached out to people and provided them all possible help," said Jehangir.
The BJP spokesman demanded that the government should quash the notice immediately and allow media to function independently. "Chief minister Omar Abdullah needs to realise that the newspapers are not a part of his official machinery which run on his directions," he said.
The opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) also condemned the government move. "There could be no charge funnier than accusing someone to discredit the state government or causing disaffection against it when the present government has itself achieved it in ample measure. By trying to muzzle GK, the paralysed Omar Abdullah government instead of displaying signs of life only adds to its disgrace," said PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar. He also sought annulment of the legal notice. Meanwhile, the newspaper sought 10 days to file its response before the state law department.