On Wednesday, Kashmir Reader finally resumed publication after being subjected to a nearly three-month long ban. The English-language newspaper was banned on October 2 by the state government alleging that its material was capable of inciting “acts of violence” and disturbing “public peace and tranquillity”. Speaking to exchange4media, Hilal Mir, Editor of Kashmir Reader narrated that “there were informal channels of communication” between them and the government ever since the ban was imposed.
Kashmir Editors Guild and some journalists participated in the talks. While Kashmir Reader was assured of the ban being revoked on numerous occasions, Mir mentioned that it did not happen until “Kashmir Editors Guild’s meeting with Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti”.
The much-awaited order finally arrived on December 26. “On Tuesday, we got the order. Earlier in the day, Kashmir Editors Guild met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during which she had promised that the order would be delivered,” he added. Despite the ban, Kashmir Reader claimed to have received widespread support from the staff.
“The entire staff used to come every day to the office and held meetings,” he said. Mir also told exchange4media that the financial loss caused during this period was “yet to be quantified” as advertising revenues from both government and private bodies is not regular. Upon resuming publication, the newspaper published a bold editorial titled “Unshackled” on the first page.
“The time away from our readers has been a time of meditation, deep reflection on the practice and arduous evolution of English-language journalism in Kashmir as well as the challenges journalists reporting Kashmir often face,” wrote Kashmir Reader. The publication also thanked members of the civil society and press for extending their support to them.
Srinagar’s District Magistrate had issued the order banning Kashmir Reader. “I, District Magistrate, Srinagar do hereby direct the Printer, Publisher and Owner of Daily Kashmir Reader to abstain from printing and publishing of the newspaper namely ‘Kashmir Reader’ till further orders so that disturbance of public tranquillity is prevented,” the order said.