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Government seals Kashmir Times office, editor vows to fight

Eastern Times, Srinagar, Oct 20: It is often said that the media in Kashmir is under a dramatic state of repression. Reflecting on this, the Jammu and Kashmir Estates Department on Monday sealed the office of Kashmir Times (KT) in Srinagar without serving any cancellation or eviction notice to them.

The office was allotted to KT in a government building in Press Enclave that houses several other newspaper offices in similar buildings. ‘Today, Estates Deptt locked Kashmir Times office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, same way as I was evicted from a flat in Jammu, where my belongings including valuables were handed over to “new allottee”. Vendetta for speaking out! No due process followed. How peevish!’- said Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of KT, in a Facebook post soon after the incident.

In fact, the office was sealed late afternoon when the KT staffers were working inside. They said, the Estates Department did not give any reasons for the government action. Also the newspaper owners claimed that no notice of cancellation or eviction was served on them and “nothing in writing” was given to them.

However, Monday’s incidence was not the first of its kind as the Estates Department on Thursday last sealed the office of Kashmir News Service (KNS), that’s too, without notice or reason. The Estates Department officials barged into the office of KNS at Magarmal Bagh area of Srinagar and directed the KNS staffers to pack up their belongings hurriedly and locked the office.

On Monday evening, soon after the news of the sealing of the Kashmir Times building, the social media was abuzz with condemnations by media persons, readers and observers.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “This explains why some of our ‘esteemed’ publications have decided to become Government mouthpieces, printing only government press handouts. The price of independent reportage is to be evicted without due process.”

Also former chief minister Mehbboba Mufti reacted sharply on the move tweeting, “Anuradha was one of the few local newspaper editors in J&K who stood upto GOIs illegal & disruptive actions in the state. Shutting down her office in Srinagar is straight out of BJPs vendetta playbook to settle scores with those who dare to disagree.”

Meanwhile Anuradha Bhasin said that she would challenge the eviction order. “There was no technical reason on which the office could have been sealed,” she told a newspaper in the valley. “However, it was due to me speaking up for press freedom. We are going to fight it”– vowed she.

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