The Editors Guild of India on October 22 criticised the Jammu and Kashmir administration's decision to seal the office of Kashmir Times in Srinagar. The Editors Guild said that the action was reprehensible, and would have "disturbing implications" for the media of the two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The Estates Department on October 19 sealed the office of Kashmir Times in a government building at Press Enclave. The owners of one of the oldest English dailies in Jammu and Kashmir claimed that "no prior notice was given to them".
"Newspapers and Magazines in the undivided state of Jammu and Kashmir were already ravaged by conflict, with editors and correspondents working against difficult odds," the guild said. "Publications have steadily lost advertising over the last decade. Jammu and Kashmir's communication shutdowns, followed by the pandemic lockdown, have totally stopped the trickle of revenue. The online editions are crippled by the slow internet speed imposed by the government."
The guild also said that the Union Territory administration had forced the Kashmir Times to shut down its Srinagar edition in March.
"Instead of assisting the media, which was most needed in these dark times, the administration without any notice took control of the office of Kashmir Times, putting its lock on the door," the organisation said. "The newspaper editor, Ms Anuradha Bhasin, and the staff have been denied access to records, computers, furniture and equipment in the office."
The Editors Guild said that it considers the action of the J&K administration "vindictive" and injurious to the entire free media of the Union Territory.
The body also called on the administration to unseal the offices of the Kashmir Times and provide an environment in which the media can work without fear.
"The Press Club of India is dismayed to note that the UT administration of Jammu and Kashmir has continued with its calculated and sustained attacks on the media in the UT, and its efforts to efface the cause of press freedom, without which any claims to democracy become dubious," The Press Club of India said in its statement.
The Press Club called the actions of the "militaristic regime" "dictatorial, unconstitutional, without due process".
On Wednesday, the Press Association had criticised the sealing of the offices of the Kashmir Times.