–Local newspapers publish blank front pages in protest
Shops and businesses remained closed in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) on Sunday as a shutdown was observed in Srinagar and adjoining areas after India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday issued a summon for All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for questioning.
According to Indian media, Mirwaiz as well as Naseem Geelani — son of the chairman of another faction of the APHC, Syed Ali Shah Geelani — were issued summons by NIA for questioning in an ongoing investigation into a terror funding case. While Geelani had been summoned before as well, this was the first time Mirwaiz has been summoned. India Today said that Mirwaiz has been asked to come to NIA’s head office in New Delhi on March 11.
The strike call for today was given by the Srinagar-based Traders Coordination Committee described as an amalgam of various trade bodies and was supported by Beopar Mandal Mahrajgunj and Jamia Market, Srinagar.
The committee’s chairman Nazir Shah said summoning Mirwaiz was a “direct attack on religion, which is unacceptable to the trade community”. According to KMS, he said that traders would hit the streets if the summon was not revoked.
“The Mirwaiz family has been at the forefront of religious activities and any attack on him is an attack on Kashmiris,” Shah was quoted as saying. New Delhi was “pushing the people of Kashmir into fire by making an onslaught on socio-religious organisations and religious leadership,” he said.
In a post shared on Twitter, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said that Mirwaiz was not “any ordinary leader” and added that he was the “religious and spiritual head” to Kashmiri Muslims.
“NIA summons to him are emblematic of GOIs [Government of India] repeated assaults on our religious identity. J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] is the proverbial sacrificial lamb exploited to divert attention from real issues,” she added.
NEWSPAPERS PUBLISH BLANK FRONT PAGES:
Several local newspapers in IOK on Sunday published blank front pages to protest the “unexplained denial of government advertisements to Greater Kashmir and Kashmir Reader newspapers”.
According to KMS, among the papers that published blank covers are the Kashmir Observer, Kashmir Reader, Kashmir Vision and The Kashmir Monitor.
The Kashmir Editors’ Guild had earlier urged the Press Council of India and the Editors Guild to exercise their legal, ethical and professional mandate to intervene.
Authorities had stopped advertisements to the two major dailies a day after the February 14 Pulwama attack.
Condemning the ban, the Kashmir Editors’ Guild had said that the media in Kashmir is one of the most professional and has retained its neutrality even at the cost of lives.
“It will continue to do so. The professional capacities of Kashmir media have been acknowledged world over. The Press Council of India has also issued a detailed report in 2018, detailing the issues and challenges that the Kashmir media is facing. The guild also wants to reiterate that the attempts at strangulating the media are in continuation of what has happened in last more than three decades,” it said.
Sharing an image of a blank front page of Greater Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti said, “Centre’s decision to stop ads to it should be viewed in the context of their attitude towards press and electronic media in general. Kowtow to their warped agenda and sing praises. Or else suffer.”