The All Parties Hurriyet Conference (APHC) on Tuesday condemned an Indian government ban on the airing of 34 Pakistani and Saudi TV channels in held Kashmir, terming the move a ‘strangulation of the freedom of expression’ and an indication that New Delhi had lost control over the Kashmiri people.
The state government in India-held Kashmir had earlier this week initiated action against different TV channels after concerns that the content in these channels may ‘incite violence’ and ‘disrupt the law and order’ situation in the disputed region.
The channels banned air news, entertainment, food and cuisine, religion and sports programmes.
The APHC, in a statement issued in Srinagar said: “It is quite strange to ban those channels which are specific to Quran and religious programmes. It is tantamount to a direct interference in religious matters.”
The statement called the ban ‘deplorable’ and claimed that: “It is a step towards the creation of a Hindu Rashtra,” the Kashmir Media Service reported.
“These steps reflect their future course of targeting the Muslim community and Islam. Its repercussions may perhaps be severe if the decision is not revoked by authorities,” the statement said.
The forum, which is led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the ban ‘shameful’ and said: “The real purpose behind all these actions is to isolate the Kashmiri population.”
A spokesman, quoting Farooq, said: “The authorities do not want the reality of Kashmir to be highlighted internationally. They do not want the people of Kashmir to have access to information other than what India filters into Kashmir through its state and corporate-run media,” he added.
“The restrictions on social media and TV channels in Kashmir have been imposed at the behest of the communal forces of India,” Mirwaiz said in the statement, cautioning that such restrictions could further deteriorate the situation in the territory.
Other Hurriyet leaders, including Nayeem Ahmad Khan and Masroor Abbas Ansari, in separate statements said the ban is evidence that New Delhi has ‘lost control’ over the Kashmiri people.
The ban has come nearly two weeks after the Indian government imposed an unprecedented ban on 22 social networking sites in IHK on April 26.