Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Situation of Press in Kashmir

Dear Omar, 
 I am forwarding the email I have received from Mr. G.M. Kaloo, President of the J&K Press Association, whom you had met several months back at my request. I have been receiving several such emails from various persons stating that newspapers are not being allowed to be published/distributed in Kashmir, cell phones and internet services have been disabled, and other restrictions placed after the hanging of Afzal Guru.

  My own thinking in the matter is this : no freedom can be absolute, and hence press freedom under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution can also not be absolute, but is subject to reasonable restrictions in the public interest vide Article 19(2).

 Kashmir has a law and order problem, and ordinarily it is the state government which is the best judge of the situation and the way to handle it. Hence we should ordinarily respect the decision of the state government. The state government may have thought that for some time there should be a restraint on press freedom, because while many newspapers are responsible, some are not, and may publish inflammatory material which may create a huge law and order problem by inciting people to violence. Hence for some time a restraint order may be justified.

 However, if the restraint is continued too long it may become unreasonable and unjustified. After all, there has to be a limit to the time duration of the restraint order, and it cannot continue indefinitely. People have to be allowed to let off steam and express their grievances peacefully,otherwise their grievances will erupt violently. There is a proverb "Words break no bones".

 I would therefore request that you consider the matter and discuss it with Mr. Kaloo and other respected and responsible journalists of J&K, and then pass appropriate orders.

  You know that I hold you in respect, and I know of the difficult situation you are facing, and so I hope you will not mind my expressing my view, which I think to be in your interest.
 Justice Katju

Subodh Mukoo wrote:

Publication of news paper has been stopped by the government and thus people deprived of information about day to day developments in Kashmir Valley .
G. H. Kaloo
Jammu Kashmir Press Association(JKPA)
(Subodh K Mukoo)
National Coordinator, JKPA

CM Omar Abdullah's Reply :

Dear Justice Katju,

With reference to your emails of today please find attached below my response which I hope you will take in to consideration while making any public statements regarding the media in Kashmir. 

Best regards

Omar Abdullah

With reference to your e-mails, I fully share your concern regarding continuation of restrictions in the Kashmir Valley.

The facts are under:-

·       The execution of Afzal Guru took place on Saturday (Feb 9). On Saturday night, some local newspapers like Kashmir Images and Kashmir Reader and a few local Urdu dailies did print and publish their newspapers.

·         Circulation of these papers by the vendors was not possible as there were severe restrictions on any kind of movement in Srinagar city, in particular, and all over Kashmir valley at large.

·         We have been given to understand that on Sunday newspapers have not printed their editions as restrictions were continuing in Kashmir valley and circulation of the same would not have been possible, even if they were to be printed.

·        It may be mentioned that Jammu editions of the Kashmir based papers did get circulated.

·      The Information Department has not issued any directive to the publishers by putting any restrictions.

·         It is true that the internet facilities on GPRS enabled phones  have suffered, but Broadband  Desktop internet facilities are available and the newspapers are updating their editions online.

·        With the Government proposing to ease restrictions in Kashmir valley as the situation improves, movement of vehicles would also be getting facilitated and we are sure that the media publications would also get circulated.

·        The security/ law and order concerns and the restrictions in Kashmir Valley has well been appreciated by you and we acknowledge it with all humility. 


  1. A responsible Reply from J&K CM.

  2. Dear Justice Katju,

    I really appreciate how you are striving to ensure that freedom of speech and press is maintained. We are with you - The Youth of this nation is with you.

    I am a law student and you are an inspiration for law students like me all over the country. May I have the liberty of comparing you with the great Nani Palkhivala. I see little difference between you and Shri Palkhivala. You both have always wanted this country to think forward and grow.

    Lastly, best wishes for all your endeavours.


  3. "internet facilities on GPRS enabled phones have suffered, but Broadband Desktop internet facilities are available" -- Data cards-- widely used to access Internet in the valley-- are also not functioning. When he says "broadband" he means "minus wireless broadband".
    He obviously didn't tell you that text messages have been banned for well over 3 years now on prepaid phones.
    A very select section of elites-- a vast majority of them govt. officials and politicians-- use broadband on BSNL landline (as is the case for postpaid mobile)-- which happens to be the only source of accessing the Internet right now.

  4. Mr G.H Kaloo is talking about day to day development in Kashmir when even the bird is not able to flap his single wing. Rest it is better not to prefer a newspaper for couple of days if Showkat (my newspaper vendor) has to drop it at the cost of his life by moving in curfew. Media is integral part of every society but who will want a sensational newspaper with his tea at the cost of someone’s life. I respect the concern showed by Justice Katju and agree with the points raised by Chief Minister and at the same time i think of all other essential day to day and medical facalities which the people should be provided in a situation like this. In a chilly winter most of the people in Kashmir need Asthelene instead of Greater Kashmir or Kashmir times.

  5. Just today I have heard that In A Municipal Election in an area dominated by 90% Muslims in Gujarat who have voted to main stream government in rule and are happily accepting the state policies.
    These people should be organized and taken to Kashmir for a face to face debate about grievances and their eradication by the thorough debate till they find a solution. I hope this will work as both are from the same faith, will understand & trust each other to come to a conclusion other than sending Interlocutor or few people from other faith weather they are from Kashmir or other state.
    In my opinion most of the Kashmiri's are not interested in regional politics and problem is very simple but it is exaggerated purposely and shown as very complicated. I can not believe that people of Kashmir have extra terrestrial skill not to accept our simple version which is the need of the hour. No harm in trying as I we have tried so many things but failed.
    We can take arrange special train with 1500 volunteers who have nationalist mind and arrange a stadium for an open debate with same nos. fro the other side and open to all to view who so ever wish to under the deployment of police force for law and order.
    Union govt. should be asked to arrange funds for all the facilities to be provided during this debate and stay of people participating in the debate which I hope will divert the minds of the people from aggressive to moderate and will bring a change.
    We can use the services of Ms. Kiran Bedi for the security arrangement in coordination with local forces.

    1. Excellent idea. Full support. For a change we should keep these bas.......rd. politicians away and give people a chance. We have had enough of self seeking politicos.

  6. Yes, I (we, youths of india) inspired from mr.katju, i recent years, i have read all of your articles in papers and comment... You really working for people of india.you just want to take our india, as a developed & secular nation, as we like...
    I heartly salute you, and your works...
    The quote said by swami vivekanda give 100 youths from our nation, i will change this nation, but he is no more... But i feel like to work under you, to fulfill vivekanda's quote.....

    A youth citizen from india