Srinagar: Wary of anti-India propaganda, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to crack the whip against cable operators beaming “unauthorized channels” being transmitted from Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries.

Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has directed all the deputy commissioners to immediately put a stop to this practice in the Valley.

“All the deputy commissioners shall immediately ban transmission/telecast of unauthorized channels if any being telecast and shall initiate necessary action against cable operators beaming such channels,” read the minutes of a high-level meeting chaired by Khan.

Two years back, the J&K government had prohibited transmission of 34 TV channels, including those from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, saying they had the potential to incite violence and create a law and order situation.

The 34 channels banned included Peace TV Urdu and English, ARY QTV, Madni Channel, Noor TV, Hadi TV, Paigam, Hidayat, Saudi Al- Sunnah Al-Nabawiyah, Saudi-Al-Quran Al-Karim, Sehar, Karbala TV, Ahli-biat TV, Message TV, Hum TV, ARY Digital Asia, Hum Sitaray, ARY Zindagi, PTV Sports, ARY Musik, TV One, ARY Masala, ARY Zauq, A TV, Geo News, ARY News Asia, Abb Takk News, Waseb TV, 92 News, Duniya News, Samna News, Geo Tez, Express News and ARY News.

The government had invoked Section 11 of Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, under which the district magistrate has the power to seize the equipment in case any cable operators is found violating the directive.

Cable operators, however, said they are adhering to the order and cooperating with the government. “No banned channel is being beamed by any cable operator in Kashmir. We are adhering to the order in letter and spirit. We are law abiding citizens. We are adhering to government directives”, said a cable operator.

In fact, some cable operators were pulled up by law enforcing agencies after some banned channels popped up on television screens. The cable operators were forced to switch off these channels after authorities took strong note of the noncompliance of orders.

The J&K government is also concerned about that large size satellite antennas being installed by households to bypass cable operators and watch free-to-air banned channels in their homes. Sources said there has been a spurt in the procurement of such devices in recent months, particularly after the abrogation of Article 370.

“Besides, the equipment which is being procured from Jammu for telecasting unauthorized channels should be immediately seized,” said Divisional Commissioner in his order.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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