India shuts down Kashmir newspapers to hide the news

Authorities in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir have shut down printing presses and temporarily banned newspapers from publishing in a sweeping information blackout after days of anti-India protests left dozens of people dead in the volatile region. State government spokesman and Education Minister Naeem Akhtar said the measures were aimed at saving lives and strengthening peace efforts.

The government says 36 people - 35 civilians and a police officer - have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces, while local human rights groups and newspapers say at least 40 have died.

A strict curfew was in effect in troubled areas for the ninth straight day on Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of people trying to cope with shortages of food and other necessities.

Tens of thousands of government troops patrolled mostly deserted streets in the region, where shops and businesses remained closed.

Kashmir, a predominantly Muslim region, is divided evenly between India and Pakistan, but both claim it in its entirety.

Most people in India's portion resent the presence of Indian troops and want independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Information has been thin, with most cellular and internet services, as well as landline phone access, not working in the troubled areas, except for in Srinagar, the main city in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Police began raiding newspaper offices and seizing tens of thousands of local newspapers on Saturday, imposing a ban on their printing until Monday. They also detained scores of printing press workers.

Media workers protest India's crackdown on Kashmir's press as deadly clashes rock the region.
Newspaper editors denounced the government action and termed it "gagging and enforcing emergency on media".

The Kashmir Reader, a daily English newspaper, said on its website on Sunday that "the government has banned local media publications in Kashmir", and called on its readers to "bear with us in this hour of crisis".

Most English dailies, however, continued uploading news on to their websites.

Editors and journalists held a protest march in Srinagar late on Saturday, carrying placards reading "Stop censorship" and "We want freedom of speech."


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