Local newspapers in Kashmir Valley were today back on the stands after five days, a day after Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met editors and owners of city-based newspapers and expressed regret over restrictions on the media.
Most of the local newspapers, including those papers which alleged a clampdown by the government, were published today as the newspaper distributors and hawkers returned to their business.
“It is good that newspapers have resumed their publications. We are happy not only from the business point of view, but because it will also spread factual information in the Valley where rumour mills are always buzzing,” a newspaper distributor here said.
Local newspapers in the Valley whether English, Urdu or Kashmiri had failed to hit the stands on Saturday after the police allegedly raided some printing facilities and seized newspapers, plates and even detained the printing staff.
Following the police action, a meeting of Kashmir-based newspaper editors, printers and publishers was held on Saturday where they decided to stop their publications until the government owned up to the clampdown and apologised.
The journalists also held a protest against the clampdown, terming it as an attack on the freedom of press and stopped their publications.
However, on Tuesday, the government said there were no restrictions on printing and publishing of newspapers.
The District Magistrates of Srinagar and Budgam have clarified that there are no restrictions on printing and publishing of newspapers in the districts, an official spokesman said.
But the newspaper editors and owners yesterday said since the government had not changed its press emergency, they regret that it may not be possible to resume the publication of newspapers.
The government must own the ban and issue a statement guaranteeing that media operations are not being hampered from the movement of staff, to news gathering, printing and the distribution of the newspapers, they said in a statement.
They, however, decided to resume their publications after they met the Chief Minister yesterday who expressed regret over the restrictions and said it was not a deliberate attempt on part of the government, but happened because of some communication gap.
Though there has been no deliberate attempt on part of the government to impose any restrictions on the publication of newspapers, however, whatever has happened, because of some communication gap, is regrettable, Mehbooba had told them.
The chief minister assured the editors and owners that the Government would facilitate to the maximum extent possible smooth movement of journalists and other newspaper staff to ensure that they can perform their professional duties in a hassle-free manner.
She assured them that the State Government is committed to independence of the media at all costs and complaints of high-handedness against the press, if any, amid the prevailing situation will be looked into”.