Occupying Indian administration sealed the office of the English newspaper Kashmir Times in Srinagar, occupied Kashmir.
According to Al Jazeera, the property department of the local administration on Tuesday sealed the office of Kashmir Times located in Press Enclave of Srinagar.
Anuradha Bhasin, owner and executive editor of the Kashmir Times, said “Today, Estates Deptt locked our office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, the 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!”
According to Indian media reports, the newspaper’s office space was allotted to someone else in the early 1990s.
The executive editor said they were not given any notice, adding that staff at the office were working when the property department officials arrived.
The district administration official told staff to come out, saying they were locking the office, she said.
Earlier this month, Anuradha Bhasin had said that she was evicted from her official residence in Jammu.
She had said that sealing his office was “revenge politics” and that the Indian administration was “trying to suppress her”.
Anuradha Bhasin said that even last year she approached the court on the closure of the newspaper and from that day the official advertisements of Kashmir Times were stopped and this has been going on ever since.
“We have been critical of a number of government policies and measures,” she said.
The owner of Kashmir Times said that the purpose was to seal the office and silence me and this was an attempt to put me under pressure.
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“They can lock our office but they can’t suppress our voice,” she said.
Regarding the development, a property department official in Occupied Kashmir said on condition of anonymity that he had not sealed the Kashmir Times office.
“We have only taken possession of this building because the building was allotted to the late Veed Bhasan who passed away a few years ago,” she said.
It should be noted that Anuradha’s father and founder editor of Kashmir Times Veed Bhasan had passed away in 2015.
In Occupied Kashmir, journalists are outraged after the district administration’s move.
They termed the district administration’s action against the Kashmir Times as “another attempt by the Indian government to stifle freedom of the press in occupied Kashmir”.
Ishfaq Tantry, general secretary of the Kashmir Press Club, said: “This move is highly reprehensible. The Indian government should reverse its decision to seal the office and ensure an environment free of fear and oppression for the press in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The Media Watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also condemned the move by the Occupied Kashmir administration.
“We condemn the targeting and harassment of the Kashmir Times,” they said.
The CPJ said in a statement that the authorities must abandon the attempt to silence independent and critical voices and respect the freedom of the press.
Earlier, Musarat Zahra, a female journalist, had also made a statement regarding the attempt to suppress the voice of journalists in occupied Kashmir.
It may be recalled that Musarat Zahra was arrested by the police in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir under the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA).
According to the report, Musarat Zahra, 26, was named in the case on charges of engaging in anti-state activities on social media.
A statement issued by the Kashmir Press Club condemned the allegations against journalists in the region and called on Indian Home Minister Amit Shah to intervene.
The statement said, “It is very unfortunate that at a time when the world is in the throes of a pandemic when we need to unite against COVID-19, the police have started prosecuting and harassing journalists.”
Occupied Kashmir journalists said in a statement that “this is unacceptable for Kashmiri journalists because Kashmiri journalists want the freedom of expression and speech in accordance with their rights.”
Note that since the abolition of the special status of occupied Kashmir on August 5, 2019, Hindu extremist government of India had cut off communication with the rest of the world, and banned communication and movement.