Why are govt authorities targeting Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin?

Second ‘raid’ on Jammu and Kashmir’s senior woman journalist this month, authorities seal Kashmir Times office in Srinagar, give no reason

kashmir times

Anuradha Bhasin is one of the senior-most women journalists in Kashmir, a known name all over India, and most respected outside journalism circles. She, and her newspaper Kashmir Times are known for speaking truth to power. Bhasin has been known to speak about human rights violations in the region and stands up for media freedom at every step.

However, a second ‘raid’ in a month, this time at the office of the Kashmir Times, is unfortunately making her the subject of a news story itself. On Monday, the government Estates Department sealed the office of ‘Kashmir Times’ at the Press Enclave area of Srinagar. She shared this on her social media page along with this photo:

kashmir times

Fighting the state might is not new to Bhasin, and Kashmir Times, they have faced such notices, threats, and even had advertising pulled out but persevered. The closure of the Srinagar office though will have an impact later, if not challenged, is unlikely to affect the team morale ever. “They can seal buildings. They can’t seal our voices,” Bhasin told SabrangIndia over the phone from Jammu.

The Srinagar edition was suspended in the wake of Covid-19, and the Jammu edition was recently resumed with a lower print run. Then the raids on her residence, and now the office began. Bhasin says neither she nor her staff has received any official notice of cancellation or eviction in both cases. 

Anuradha Bhasin’s government-allotted flat at Wazarat Road was ‘raided’ and ‘occupied’ just two weeks ago. She had reached just in time to see the “ransacking” underway; her belongings, including the antiques, rare books, and furniture collected by the family over decades were strewn around. And there was a man sprawled on her bed. Bhasin had rushed from her sisters home, where she has been staying during the lockdown, to this flat to witness the ransacking, even as the security men, who apparently accompanied Dr Imran Ganai, the man who was sprawled on her bed and who Anuradha identified as the brother of Shehnaz Ganai, a former MLC. Ganai was there, allegedly to get the flat emptied out and take over.

This time it is the office, while  the authorities sealed the building allotted to the daily by the government, Bhasin says they did not give notice and all the equipment including computers and generators are now suddenly locked up. “The due process of law was not followed,” said Bhasin.

The team is now headquartered in Jammu, where the edition has resumed printing, and the online edition has continued. Bhasin says the team is strong and stands together and she will fight this issue legally, because no notice of cancellation or eviction was served on them, “nothing in writing was given.”

“Today, Estates Deptt locked Kashmir Times 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!,” she posted on her social media 

Bhasin told SabrangIndia that she had heard rumours that this may happen, but got no intimation from any government official or the Estates Department. “They have to follow the due process,” she said, calling this action taken against her because she and the newspaper have reported all that is happening, and she even moved the Supreme Court against media restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre abrogated Article 370 in 2019. “The day I went to court was very day, the state government advertisements to Kashmir Times stopped,” she said.

However, the editor and the media house has been getting much support from their readers too. Bhasin’s social media pages are filled with words of solidarity: “I find it really shocking just the truth is who sided with the facts and stand by the ethics of journalism they meet the same fate. It really pains deep inside to see such a prestigious newspaper being in a way forced to shut down,” said one (withholding names to protect identities). “No one can undermine the fact that Kashmir Times has time and again stood for values of ethical journalism.There is no Due Process of Law followed in this country.This is Shameful and highly condemnable,” said another.

“The sealing of Kashmir Times office in Srinagar and eviction of the newspaper’s executive editor Anuradha Bhasin and her staff members from the Jammu quarters are reprehensible acts aimed at normalising criminalisation of independent journalism in #Kashmir. There was a corrupt media mafia and stenographers union against Anuradha which not only organised a vilification campaign against her, but also ensured that she is punished for her views on freedom of speech and articles that she wrote. In complete solidarity with #Anuradha Bhasin and #Prabodh Jamwal,” added one more reader. 

“People have been kind,” acknowledged Bhasin, “I shall fight this. They cannot silence my voice”.



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