It seems that after the government and the security forces have taken the terrorists, separatists and other anti-national elements in the Kashmir valley head on, the government is planning to tackle the information (or misinformation) war as well. In a historic move, the Jammu & Kashmir government has instructed local cable operators to shut down 30 non-permitted satellite channels. The 30 TV channels which have been banned for their anti-India propaganda include Pakistani channels GEO, ARY, QTV, and Zakir Naik’s controversial, Peace TV. This move comes on the heels of the government move banning 22 websites in Kashmir which were spreading anti-national and objectionable information through these platforms.
An order by the additional district commissioner, Srinagar, dated July 12, 2018 was sent to all cable operators in Srinagar. The order read “Jammu and Kashmir government, home department, vide Ps/home/2018-60 dated 2 July, 2018 has reported that you are telecasting and transmitting unpermitted and banned private satellite channels within Srinagar.” It also stated that “It has become necessary and expedient in the larger interest of public and maintenance of peace and tranquility to prohibit (you) from transmitting non-permitted TV channels (which are not permitted by the Union ministry of information and broadcasting).” The order concluded that by exercising powers under Section 19 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, the local cable operators are directed to stop telecasting/ transmitting non-permitted TV channels/banned private satellite channels within a period of three days. The order also requires the cable operators to furnish a notarised affidavit before ADM, Srinagar. It stated that in case the cable operators failed to submit the said affidavit action under the provisions of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995, action will be taken against them.
Sources say that the decision was taken by the Governor, NN Vohra after the union ministry for information and broadcasting took up this issue with the state government. The state home department has sent a letter to all Deputy Commissioners on Tuesday directing them to act against transmission of “these channels as they have the potential to encourage violence and disturb the law and order situation”. Furthermore, the letter requires all Deputy Commissioners to clarify as to what action has been taken on media reports about transmission of non-permitted channels in the state. They have been directed to file a compliance report on this matter by Monday. The thrust of this order is not only banning instigating anti-India propaganda but also curbing the telecast of unauthorised channels in Jammu and Kashmir. The list of 30 TV channels that have been banned include mostly Pakistani and Saudi TV channels.
The government is making its intentions clear shortly after imposition of Governor’s rule in the state. The government has already taken the fight to terrorists and separatists onto a next level. While the massive assault on terrorists by the military and security forces has pushed terrorists to the wall, NIA has tightened its hold over the separatists and has gone after them with full force. Now, the government has decided to make sure that instigating elements and mediums which try to alienate the people of Kashmir from India are also handled. In today’s information age, news channels, media outlets and biased TV channels can spread misinformation at a brisk pace. In such circumstances, it is critical to rein in the Pakistani and anti-national media outlets from spreading misinformation campaign in the valley. Half of the war will be won if we can successfully check the propagation of misinformation in the terror prone state.