Kashmir Times office sealed; Omar, Mehbooba cry ‘vendetta’
Srinagar: Sealing of `The Kashmir Times’ office at Press Enclave has evoked sharp criticism from different political, journalistic, and social groups.
However, the Estates Department said it had locked only one of the two Kashmir Times building that was allotted under the name of late Ved Bhasin – the founding editor of the one of the oldest English Daily of Jammu and Kashmir.
Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of The Kashmir Times, said she was first evicted from her Jammu flat and now the Estates Department yet again locked the newspaper office without following ‘any due process’.
“Estates Deptt locked Kashmir Times office without any due process of cancellation and 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!” tweeted Bhasin.
Director Estates Subhash Chander Chibber, however, refused to comment on the matter. “Talk to the deputy director,” he said.
While other officials too refused to comment on the matter, a senior official of the Estates Department said they had only locked one of the quarters.
“They have two quarters – Number 9 and 4. We have taken possession of quarter no: 9 only that was alloted under the name of Ved Bhasin in 1994. Since he has expired a few years back, it cannot be kept under his name and therefore we took this action. Quarter no 4 is there and we have not sealed it. It is still allotted under the name of Kashmir Times,” the official said.
The locking of the building evoked widespread criticism.
“This explains why some of our “esteemed” publications have decided to become Government mouthpieces, printing only government press handouts. The price of independent reportage is to be evicted without due process,” tweeted former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah.
Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti too condemned the ‘vendetta’. “Anuradha was one of the few local newspaper editors in J&K who stood up to GOIs illegal & disruptive actions in the state. Shutting down her office in Srinagar is straight out of BJPs vendetta playbook to settle scores with those who dare to disagree,” she tweeted.
The act was also condemned by the media fraternity even as several journalists took to social media and extended solidarity by offering to work free for the Kashmir Times.