The ban on 34 TV channels follows just after two weeks of social media ban imposed on 22 sites in Kashmir, with the holy month of Ramadan approaching the cable operators are facing loud drums and are caught up in a helpless situation.
On one side is the state machinery adamant to enforce the ban and on the other hand people are outraged by the decision of imposing ban on popular TV networks widely watched in the valley.
The ban enforced by the government on 34 TV channels include popular Islamic channels like Peace TV, ARY QTV, and Karbala TV, apart from Islamic channels the list also include Pakistan and Saudi based channels. The prominent and widely watched Pakistani News channels banned by the government include Geo News, Samna News and Duniya News.
The religious TV channels streamed from Saudi arabia also stand banned, with eyes keenly observing the skies for the Ramadan crescent, popular Islamic channels like Saudi Al-Sunnah, Al-Nabawiyah, Saudi Al-Quran, will be missed by people of Kashmir.
This is not for the first time that the government has enforced such bans, in 2008 similar ban was imposed on local news channels citing ‘law and order’ situation. Five local channels were banned during 2016 mass uprising in Kashmir, the channels taken off air were KBC, Gulistan TV, Munsiff TV, JK Channel and Insaaf TV.
Cable operators resent over government’s ban on popular TV channels: A senior member of the Cable Operators Association told Rising Kashmir, that the ban over Islamic television channels has triggered widespread outrage and resentment in people across Kashmir, but due to the ban the cable operators feel helpless and are already losing subscriptions with people migrating to use of DishTV and other alternatives.
“We have no option left, state government has left us helpless, It has affected the cable operators a lot.” said the Operator “People in kashmir will switch to alternatives that will affect the lives of operators by leaving them jobless”
Another local cable operator in Srinagar said “Lot of people watch these Islamic channels in Ramadan and banning these channels will render us jobless, We appeal to government to withdraw this ban as soon as possible” The cable operators claim to be unbiased in their operations by screening apart from 22 Hindu religious channels, in addition 22 muslim channels and other religious channels.
Islamic Cleric terms ban as attack on ‘Freedom of Speech’ and violation of Civil Rights: Head Cleric of Darul Uloom Raheemiya, Mufti Nazeer Ahmad Qasmi said “This ban is not just against the basic civil rights but an attack on the freedom of speech, every person should have the free will to present his her opinion.”
He asserted that if there was any objectionable content, that could have been notified to the channels and removed but banning the channels is not just against Islam but also undemocratic.
“Islam is the religion of peace and purpose of these TV channels help develop morals and elevate the piety of the muslims.” He added Political analyst expressed his view point on ban: “I think the ban on Pakistani and Saudi Channels is a form of violence and it is also an attempt at cultural aggression against the people of Kashmir,” said Political Analyst Gowhar Geelani “The ban is anti-globalization and to deny them facility to which program on their choice within an aim to further choke spaces in the Kashmir.”
“Also it has been done to assert a particular political party viewpoint which is essentially masculine, muscular, militaristic and radical.” He added
People angered by the ban took to social media and posted their resentment and strongly condemned the ban: Fayaz Ahmad, an Engineer from Srinagar wrote on Facebook, “It is a direct attack on Islam, they always wanted to ban these channels due their biased against the Muslims” Another cable TV Subscriber, wrote “This is outrageous, first a ban on social media and now the Television, Is this what the world’s largest democracy does?”
“Banning religious TV channels is unacceptable” said Mudasir Ahmad from Srinagar. “ An undemocratic and cowardice act of state government.”
List of TV channels banned by the Government: The channels whose transmission is to be banned, according to the order, include Noor TV, Karbala TV, Hum TV, ARY Zindagi, Geo News, Geo Tez, Express News, ARY News, ARY Zauq, ARY Masala, ARY Musik, ARY News Asia, ARY Digital Asia, ARY QTV, A TV, Abb Tak News, Waseb TV, 92 News, Duniya News, Samna News, Peace TV English, Peace TV Urdu, Madni Channel, Hadi TV, Paigam, Hidayat, Saudi Al-Sunnah, Al-Nabawiyah, Saudi Al-Quran, Al-Karim, Sehar, Ahli-biat TV and Message TV.—Agencies