Reuters, AP and NDTV correspondents asked to vacate Govt bungalows in Srinagar

While the Supreme Court deferred till September 16 hearing of the petition filed by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin, media continue to be harassed in the Valley

RK Sarovar Hotel in Srinagar where a media center was set up by the government 
RK Sarovar Hotel in Srinagar where a media center was set up by the government
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Gulzar Bhat

Despite an additional affidavit filed by the Editor-in-Chief of Kashmir Times, Prabodh Jamwal, the Supreme Court on Thursday chose to defer hearing the petition filed by the newspaper’s Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin till September 16.

Bhasin in her petition filed in the third week of August had complained that the suspension of Internet and Broadband facilities in Kashmir besides mobile telephony had made it impossible for journalists to do their work and for newspapers to bring out their editions. The court had then given the Centre a week’s notice to respond.

On Wednesday Jamwal filed a supplementary affidavit and informed the apex court that at the Media Centre set up in Srinagar, Intelligence and Security personnel were checking emails of journalists. All media persons, the affidavit claimed, were required to furnish details of people they were calling from the Centre.

“For all the journalists present, about 50 to 100 on any evening, there are four computers, one mobile phone with no internet and a slow broadband internet service at the media centre, the affidavit said. The news reports being filed were constantly monitored. “Alarmingly, at this media centre, government officials are scrutinising the email communications of journalists. Every journalist is expected to furnish information about the person being called on the phone and the information to be sent as news item,” the affidavit stated.

The Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta however contested the claims and maintained that the situation was fast getting back to normal in the Valley.

The AG also described as false reports that patients in the Valley were facing hardship. “Claims made that there is no access to hospitals in J&K are totally wrong. Seven lakh patients have accessed hospitals. 4334 patients underwent major surgeries and 44236 underwent minor surgeries,” the AG informed the court.


“For all the journalists present, about 50 to 100 on any evening, there are four computers, one mobile phone with no internet and a slow broadband internet service at the media centre, the affidavit said. The news reports being filed were constantly monitored. “Alarmingly, at this media centre, government officials are scrutinising the email communications of journalists. Every journalist is expected to furnish information about the person being called on the phone and the information to be sent as news item,” the affidavit stated.

The Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta however contested the claims and maintained that the situation was fast getting back to normal in the Valley.

The AG also described as false reports that patients in the Valley were facing hardship. “Claims made that there is no access to hospitals in J&K are totally wrong. Seven lakh patients have accessed hospitals. 4334 patients underwent major surgeries and 44236 underwent minor surgeries,” the AG informed the court.

Akeel Rasheed, News Editor at Kashmir Images, told National Herald that his publication had not carried the Op-ed page since August 5 because writers and contributors cannot be contacted.

Another prominent English daily Greater Kashmir has also been publishing only eight pages in place of the standard pagination of 20. The Tribune from Chandigarh has also suspended its Srinagar edition since August 6.

"Due to the absence of internet, we are not able to publish the newspaper from Srinagar. Even the services are barred through our private leased lines", said an official at The Tribune’s Srinagar office, who declined to furnish his name.

Meanwhile three prominent correspondents representing Reuters, AP and NDTV in the Valley are learnt to have been asked to vacate their government bungalows as soon as possible.

This is the reason, reported a Government friendly website, why these journalists have been critical of the Government.

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