Srinagar: Writers’ advocacy group PEN International has criticised Kashmir government on Thursday for banning a local daily Kashmir Reader by attributing “vague allegations” to its content.
The organisation said that the ban, imposed on 2 October, was of deep concern for the ability of the public in Kashmir to access information concerning the ongoing conflict in the region.
The advocacy group also said that the ban “didn’t appear to meet the requirements of reasonableness under the Constitution of India and necessity and proportionality under international law to restrict freedom of expression”.
“The ban imposed on the Kashmir Reader is based on loosely-worded charges, is sweeping in its scope and has continued for more than a month. The rights to information and free expression are important at all times, and all the more so during times of strife and unrest. The ban must be removed immediately,” Salil Tripathi, Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International, was quoted in a news item published on organisation’s website.
No specific details were given to the banned newspaper about any specific articles or any content which the local authorities deemed to be problematic, the news item further said.
On 16 July 2016, following the local government’s declaration of a press emergency, police seized copies of several newspapers and prevented them from publishing for several days. Shortly afterwards, the local government authorities back-tracked, denying there was a ban and stated that the police had overstepped their authority.
International human rights bodies have repeatedly clarified that restrictions on freedom of expression imposed for reasons of national security or protecting public order must meet a three-part test of legality, necessity, and proportionality.