Srinagar, July 18: Amitabh Mattoo, a top aide of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, on Monday denied that the government had imposed any ban on the media in Kashmir, saying “heads will roll” after it is clear on who took the decision.
“There has been no ban on the media (in Kashmir),” Mattoo, the political advisor to the chief minister, said here.
The denial came two days after editors and newspapers owners of Srinagar-based dailies were told by a government spokesman and minister on Saturday evening that they should stop publication in view of the strict curfew in the valley.
As a result of the crackdown, Srinagar-based newspapers couldn’t hit the stands since Saturday when copies of those already printed were seized at midnight and early morning raids by police on their printing presses.
Mattoo said that “heads will roll” after it is known “whoever locally took decision to ban newspapers in Kashmira.
The chief minister’s aide is believed to have called newspaper editors on Monday evening telling them to go ahead with their publication. However, due to operational reasons, the publishers said that it won’t be possible for them to print newspapers for Tuesday morning.
Authorities decided to impose curfew in the Valley on Tuesday for the 11th day running while separatists extended the protest shutdown for another three days here in Jammu and Kashmir.
A senior police officer told mediapersons curfew will continue in parts of the Valley for the 11th day running on Tuesday to maintain law and order.
Two protesters were killed on Monday when a violent mob attacked an army patrol in Qazigund area of Anantnag district.
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Police said four other persons were injured in the firing incident.
At least 45 people, including 43 civilian protesters and two policemen, have been killed in the spiralling violence that began in the Valley after a Hizbul commander was killed along with two of his associates in a gunfight with the security forces on July 7.
Authorities have snapped all mobile Internet connectivity and also suspended calling facility on mobile phones across the Valley.
Limited mobile phone connectivity is, however, available to subscribers on post paid mobile phones provided by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).
No vernacular or English language newspaper has been published in the Valley for the last three days.
Amitabh Mattoo, advisor to the state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, told media that the decision to ban publication of newspapers was not taken at the instance of the Chief Minister.
Mattoo said the decision was taken at “the local level and heads would soon roll for taking such a harsh decision”.
In a related development, the state government on Monday shifted Senior Superintendent of police (SSP) Badgam, Fayaz Ahmad as sources said he had been transferred for stopping printing of some local newspapers whose establishments are situated in Badgam district.
Mufti has convened an all party meeting in summer capital Srinagar on July 21 to discuss the prevailing law and order situation in the Valley.
Opposition National Conference, Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist and others have been invited to the meeting.
Addressing a meeting of senior bureaucrats in summer capital Srinagar on Monday, Mehbooba Mufti stressed on the importance of opening educational institutions as soon as possible to protect the future of students.
Schools, colleges and universities have been closed by the authorities till July 25 because of the prevailing law and order situation in the Valley.
Meanwhile, the separatists including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik have announced extension of the protest shutdown till Friday.
Security has been further tightened in the Valley as Pakistan government has announced to observe a “Black Day” on Tuesday to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir.