Omar Splits Hairs On Kashmir Media Gag

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SRINAGAR: With Kashmir newspapers unable to appear for four days after Muhammad Afzal Guru’s execution and all major news channels yanked off the cable network, the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, on Wednesday denied any ban on publication, claiming that dailies had chosen not to print as “restrictions” made distribution impossible.

“There is no ban on newspapers in Kashmir. Papers are choosing not to print because restrictions make delivery of newspapers impossible,” Abdullah said on Twitter.

“If there was a ban, it would have been extended to their internet editions as well which are being regularly updated,” he wrote.

Glibly, the chief minister forgot to mention why cable networks in Kashmir blocked all major news channels, except Doodarshan, but kept entertainment channels running, and made no mention of snapping internet services in Kashmir immediately on Guru’s hanging.

The chief minister was also silent on the government issuing no curfew passes for newspapers’ staff and the distribution network, but chose to wriggle out with the help of technicalities.

“Those continuously going on about a ‘government gag’ would be well advised to produce a single copy of the gag order,” he said.

According to reports, the chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), Markanday Katju, had written to Abdullah saying that a short-term restraint order on the publication of newspapers may be justified in the wake of the execution of Muhammad Afzal Guru, but would be unreasonable if it went on for a long time.  

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