Cable operators express resentment against banning of religious channels in Kashmir

Gazala Shafi

Srinagar, July 19: Kashmir based cable operators Thursday expressed resentment against the order of banning thirty religious Tv channels in Kashmir.

A delegation of cable operators from South Kashmir called on South Asia Peace Movement Chairman Tariq Bhat at his Srinagar office on Thursday morning and apprised him about their grievances and demands.

 The cable operators said that some channels which they have been asked to shutdown, are purely religious and nothing to do with violence directly or indirectly.

“These channels telecast Hajj programmes, recitation of the holy Quran and other relevant religious programmes for Muslims. Our business run because people in Kashmir, especially old aged persons watch these channels,” they said.

Terming the ban on Islamic channels as a “direct interference on religion”, Sahil Ahmad, a cable operator said  they are apprehending that the ban will lead to many of their viewers switching over to other satellite TV medias such as Dish TV causing huge losses to cable TV operators in Kashmir.

“We are appalled that the same government which used to say that cable TV offers a sense of normalcy is now clamping down these channels. Government has failed to realize that these are free to air channels beamed across the world but instead they are taking bizarre decisions by banning them. Instead of banning Islamic channels, the government should put several national news channels under scanner for “fomenting trouble” by telecasting “exaggerated content on Kashmir”, they added.

Similarly, a separate delegation of Srinagar based cable operators said these  religious channels have been operational for last 20 years ever since cable TV started in Kashmir ” but we never faced any problems with these channels”, they said.

“In fact we were told to stop cable news channels in 2010 which we adhered to but what difference has that made to the ground level situation. In terms of beaming of channels, we offer religious channels of all faiths to viewers so what is the point in banning religious channels of just one religion. It is an assault on religion,” they said.

South Asia Peace Movement Chairman Tariq Bhat gave them patient hearing and assured that he would use his good offices to take up their grievances with authorities.

Bhat also sought cooperation of these cable operators and urged them to not run any channel on their network which adversely affects the peace and communal harmony in J&K.

The channels that have been banned are Peace TV English, Peace TV Urdu, 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, 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. Apart from religious and news channels, the list interestingly includes a sports channel, two culinary channels and a music channel.

they are ready to cooperate with the authorities

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