By Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir seized newspapers and shut down cable television on Saturday, aiming to quell a flare up of tensions in the region which has seen violent protests over the killing of a separatist commander by security forces.
Around 36 people have been killed and 3,100 wounded, most of them by police fire, in the worst outbreak of violence in six years in the disputed territory also claimed by India’s arch rival Pakistan.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has already imposed a curfew and blocked mobile phone services to stop people from gathering in the streets and stage more protests over last week’s killing of 22-year old separatist leader Burhan Wani.
“The clamp-down was necessitated as Pakistani channels that are beamed here through cable television network have launched a campaign aimed at fomenting trouble here,” said a Jammu and Kashmir government minister who declined to be named. “Some newspapers were also sensationalizing the violence … We will take a decision on (their) restoration after July 19.”
Abdul Rashid Mukhdoomi, printer and publisher of Kashmir valley’s largest circulated daily, Greater Kashmir, said police raided his printing press at 2 a.m. and “took away all the newspapers that were printed and the printing was also stopped”.
“We were not handed over any order under which the printing and circulation of our newspapers were stopped,” Mukhdoomi said.
Cable TV networks across Kashmir remain shut.
Amjad Noor, owner of Site Entertainment Network which runs a cable network in Srinagar, told Reuters police told his organization to shut down operations last night.
Separatist leaders on Friday evening called for a 72 hour strike and protests against the killings of civilians. They said in a statement they also supported Pakistan’s call to observe a “black day” on July 19 against the killings.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has said he was shocked by the killing of Wani and the civilians.
India’s foreign ministry said on Friday it was dismayed by Pakistan’s attempt to “interfere in our internal matters”.
(Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Mark Potter)