Saudi clerics and Pakistani news anchors are being beamed direct to Kashmiri homes, and are stoking the fires of ‘azadi’. Over 50 Saudi and Pakistani channels, including Zakir Naik’s banned Peace TV and others indulging in anti-India propaganda are running without necessary clearances via private cable networks in Kashmir, Indian media reported Friday.
All this is happening under the nose of the PDP-BJP government, which even subscribes to these cable services in some of its offices and buildings.
Although satellite television service providers like Tata Sky, Airtel digital TV and Dish TV, are available in Kashmir, most people subscribe to private cable.
A cable operator, who did not want to be named, said that there are over 50,000 private cable connections in Srinagar alone, and only because these broadcast Pakistani and Saudi channels.
Besides Naik’s Peace TV Urdu and English channels, private operators air Saudi and Pakistani channels like Saudi Sunnah, Saudi Quran, Al Arabia, Paigham, Hidayat, Noor, Madani, Sehar, Karbala, Hadi, Sehar, Ary QTV , Bethat, Ahlibat, Message, Falak, Geo News, Ary News, Dawn News, and many others, which cannot be accessed through satellite television service providers. None of these channels is permitted to air in the rest of the country by the I&B ministry . “No cable operator, any where in the country, including in Jammu & Kashmir, can run any channel other than the ones approved by the Union I&B ministry.
If it is not in the permitted list of channels on the ministry website, it is being illegally broadcast. Most Pakistani news channels refer to Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkare-Taiba and other groups as “martyrs” and counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir as “human rights violations”.
The Indian media admitted that People in Kashmir have historically preferred Pakistani news and drama. “Love for all things Pakistan has a political history but love for Saudi religious channels developed in the ’90s,” said Muzaffar, a Srinagar businessman, whose employees are avid watchers of Saudi channel.
Amjad Noor, the owner of Site Entertainment Network (SEN)-the biggest local cable network in Srinagar which has been running for the last 20 years and is subscribed by some government offices, said all Saudi and Pakistani channels were “free-to-air” and “legal” because Jammu & Kashmir has its “own constitution under Article 370 and a separate law, Ranbir Penal Code”.—INP