Omar Abdullah apologises to journalists

The seizure of newspapers and alleged harassment of journalists on Friday came up for discussion in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly following which the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah apologised to the scribes.

Srinagar: The seizure of newspapers and alleged harassment of journalists on Friday came up for discussion in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly following which the Chief
Minister Omar Abdullah apologised to the scribes.

"I apologise to the journalists," Omar said while responding to the issue of harassment raised by National Panthers Party (NPP) member Harsh Dev Singh, CPI(M) MLA MY
Tarigami and Independent MLA Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen during a discussion before Question Hour.

Police today seized copies of newspapers published from Srinagar and allegedly detained the hawkers, while three scribes were beaten up as they were on their way to the
Assembly complex.

The chief minister said there have been some unpleasant incidents with the journalists but these have occurred due to the prevailing situation in the Valley.

He asked the journalists to bear with the difficulties as preventing loss of life and property was of prime importance.

Commenting on the seizure of newspapers, he said two vehicles carrying newspapers were seized by police station Kothibagh to check if the dailies carried any inflammatory
material in the wake of the Ayodhya verdict yesterday.

"Personally, I believe it was not necessary (to seize newspapers). I have asked the Director General of State Police (Kuldeep Khoda) to ascertain who was responsible for it and he will submit a report within 24 hours," Omar said.

The chief minister said there was no truth in allegations that newspaper offices or printing presses were raided in the wee hours today.

Earlier, NPP member Singh said the measures taken by the state government were reminiscent of the emergency days (1975) as all papers have been seized and hawkers detained.

He said it was ironic that suppression of information was taking place in the times of RTI and Right to Know.

Tarigami said he failed to understand the police move to seize the newspapers when people had access to 24-hour news channels which carry all the statements and information.

"What is going to be achieved by curbing the print media when most of the middle class has access to private TV news channels?" he said urging the government to hold a
meeting with the editors of local newspapers to bridge the gap
with the fourth estate.

Yaseen said the curbs on free press was against the principles of National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who had envisioned a vibrant media in his "Naya
Kashmir" dream.

PTI

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