Four Pakistani channels were pulled off the air in J&K on Wednesday. Authorities said PTV, Geo TV, ARY and AAJ were being beamed without the permission of the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
And in a prompt show of protest, cable TV network went off air too. “The government initiative has badly affected our business as Pakistani news channels are widely viewed in the Valley. We have stopped beaming all national and international channels in protest,” said a cable operators’ spokesperson.
On Wednesday, Srinagar DM Ajaz Iqbal directed all cable operators to switch off the Pakistani channels after receiving a communication from the I&B Ministry.
The move is being resented in the state’s political circles. “It is an act of frustration by the government. The Pakistani media was giving wide coverage to human rights violations in Kashmir,” said Mirwaiz Umer Farooq of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference. Syed Ali Geelani, who heads the hardline faction, said, “This shows an inherent contradiction in Indian policies. On the one hand, they talk of normalising economic ties and on the other, impose a ban on Pakistani channels.”
“It is not the right approach,” said the NC’s Ali Mohammad Sagar while Nizamuddin Bhat of the PDP said: “It is tantamount to curbing press freedom.”