The Kashmir Times office in Srinagar remains sealed despite stay order

Published : October 22, 2020 18:14 IST

The office of “The Kashmir Times” Photo: NISSAR AHMAD

The Jammu and Kashmir administration sealed the office of The Kashmir Times, the oldest English daily in the erstwhile State on October 19. According to newspaper reports, officials from the Estates Department forced the newspaper’s employees out of the premises and sealed it without any prior intimation of the move.

Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of the daily and daughter of Ved Bhasin, founder-editor of the newspaper and legendary Kashmiri journalist, tweeted: “Today, Estates Deptt locked our office without any due process of cancellation & eviction, same way as I was evicted from a flat in Jammu, where my belongings including valuables were handed over to ‘new allottee’. Vendetta for speaking out! No due process followed. How peevish!”

The action was evidently vindictive as it came after her forcible eviction from her government quarters on October 5. According to her, “some dozen goons, including personal SPOs of the goons, barged into my house. They were led by Imran Ganai (who calls himself a doctor) and is a brother of ex-MLC Shehnaz Ganai (who is one of the allottees in our colony) in the opposite building”.

She said she had heard rumours that her quarters was being allocated to someone else but had received no official orders to vacate it and that Imran Ganai “illegally” occupied it. She alleged that her valuables were stolen even as the police watched but she was reluctant to lodge a complaint. Talking to Frontline, she said that she was not allowed to collect her belongings. In recent months, several prominent journalists have been called to interrogation centres in connection with their stories and allegedly ill-treated and intimidated.

The Kashmir Times office is located in the press enclave of Srinagar. It was allotted to the newspaper by the government in 1993. Anuradha Bhasin said that the newspaper office in Srinagar and the living quarters in Jammu were allotted to her newspaper under the Jammu and Kashmir Estate Department rules for media personnel.

She tweeted on October 21: “Finally got a stay order from DC (dated 19th October) only till 30th October but the Estates department has so far refused to open the lock. I would also like to thank everybody for the overwhelming solidarity and support.” She also confirmed to this reporter on October 22 that the authorities are still refusing to open The Kashmir Times’ office.