Scribes protest against govt for not holding empanel meeting, ‘anti-newspaper’ ad policy

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scribesSrinagar, April 1 (GNS): Police on Friday detained scores of journalists including the newspaper editors here who were protesting against government for not holding meeting to empanel new newspapers for official advertisement for several years.  The scribes were also protesting against the recently announced government’s Advertisement Policy.

Reports informed news agency GNS that the journalists assembled at Press Enclave here and attempted to march towards the Governor House but a police party present there foiled their attempt and detained more than a dozen among them.

Earlier, the protesting journalists demanded the government to hold the empanelment meeting without further delay. They also demanded amendments in the new advertisement policy announced by the government while terming it as anti-newspaper policy, the reports said.

“We have been running newspapers since last 5 to 6 years without any assistance provided by the government. And now, when we expected the approval of our papers for ads, the administration came with such a policy which can only be termed as anti-newspaper. This is a sheer injustice with us,” they said.

The amendments, which they demand, include curbing the ample powers given to the Information Department “which will now serve as ‘Vigilance department’ not as ‘Public Relations Office’”.

Those detained include senior editor Rashid Rahil, Arshid Mir, Tasleem Arif, Zahid Bhat, Irfan Zargar, Arshad Rasool, Nazir Makhdoomi, Bashir Tosha, Feroz Ahmad, Manzoor Baba, Fazal Haq Bhat, Mehrajuddin, Sajjad Hassan, and Shaheen

Reacting sharply, the Jammu Kashmir Press Association President G H Kaloo had termed the advertisement policy as anti-newspapers and totally detrimental to the interests of the fourth pillar of the democracy.

“It was unanimously declared that it is anti-newspapers and totally detrimental to the interests the press,” Kaloo had said.

“If due amendments were not carried by the government, we shall be forced to knock the doors of Judiciary,” he had said, adding, “The amendments need in respect of curbing ample powers given to the Information Department, which is now serving as Vigilance Department and not as Public Relations Office.”

The newly advertisement policy was announced by the Governor N. N. Vohra led government on March 04.

“Considering the rapidly changing operational environment and increase in the number of publications over the years, it has been considered necessary and appropriate to revise the existing Advertisement Policy issued way back in the year 1996 in order to bring it in sync with the obtaining requirement”, the government order had said.

Pertinently, the newly registered newspapers of the J&K which meet the government’s objectives to promote responsible, constructive and healthy journalism are still awaiting empanelment by state’s information department.

In absence of the support from government, the unapproved newspapers are suffering a lot and it is against the government policy also.

The publishers of the unapproved newspapers also had series of meetings with the former Chief Minister late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, PDP President Mehbooba Mufti and Principal Secretary to CM, BB Vyas regarding the empanelment. The association’s proposal in this regard was in principle agreed to by the late Chief Minister.

JK’s Information Department has not convened any such meeting from last more than five years as a result these newspapers are suffering a great deal.

That in absence of the meeting for past five years which also violates the principle of natural justice, the unapproved newspapers are facing financial crisis. (GNS)