SRINAGAR: Authorities in India-held Kashmir seized newspapers and shut down cable television on Saturday, aiming to quell a flare-up of tensions in the region which has seen violent protests over the killing of a militant commander by security forces.
At least 36 people have been killed and 3,100 wounded, most of them by police fire, in the worst outbreak of violence in six years in the disputed territory.
The authorities have already imposed a curfew and blocked mobile phone services to stop people from gathering in the streets and stage more protests over last week’s killing of 22-year-old militant leader Burhan Wani.
“The clamp-down was necessitated as Pakistani channels that are beamed here through cable television network have launched a campaign aimed at fomenting trouble here,” alleged a Jammu and Kashmir government minister who declined to be named.
“Some newspapers were also sensationalising the violence … We will take a decision on [their] restoration after July 19.”
Abdul Rashid Mukhdoomi, printer and publisher of occupied Kashmir valley’s largest circulated daily, Greater Kashmir, said police raided his printing press at 2am and “took away all the newspapers that were printed and the printing was also stopped”.
“We were not handed over any order under which the printing and circulation of our newspapers were stopped,” Mukhdoomi said.
Cable TV networks across the disputed region remain shut.
Amjad Noor, owner of Site Entertainment Network which runs a cable network in Srinagar, said police told his organisation to shut down operations on Friday night.
Kashmiri leaders opposed to Indian rule over the region on Friday evening called for a 72-hour strike and protests against the killings of civilians.
They said in a statement they also supported Pakistan’s call to observe a “black day” on July 19 against the killings.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he was shocked by the killing of Wani and the civilians.
India’s foreign ministry said on Friday it was dismayed by “Pakistan’s attempt to interfere in our internal matters”.