A widely circulated Urdu daily was banned and its office sealed on Tuesday for carrying a picture of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the party’s state unit chief Saifuddin Soz with a derogatory caption.
The Srinagar district magistrate directed the police to seal the Srinagar-based Alsafa newspaper office and asked its proprietor, printer, publisher and editor Ashraf Shaban to appear before the court on June 23.
The picture of Soz whispering into Gandhi’s ears during her recent Jammu visit was published in the daily’s Sunday edition, with an irrelevant caption denigrating Soz and his daughter.
“We have sealed the office and seized its publishing material and printing press,” said Muhammad Irshad, superintendent of police, South Srinagar.
An FIR has been filed against the newspaper and its editor, who is absconding, the police said. Many employees of the newspaper have also gone into hiding.
“We are looking out for Shaban is absconding. We are also questioning four to five persons to find out who is responsible for the mischief,” Irshad told Hindustan Times.
The Kashmir Press Association has hailed the government decision of banning and sealing the newspaper office “The May 30 publication of the newspaper is an insult to journalism,” the body said in a press statement, denouncing the daily’s offensive and cheap language.
Alsafa is one of the state’s oldest newspapers and was the top newspaper during the peak of militancy.
The newspaper has a history of publishing defamatory stories about senior ministers and officials.