India withdraws Aljazeera’s security clearance over Kashmir documentary

New Delhi: Government of India has come down heavily on international news organization Al Jazeera for broadcasting documentary about militancy in Kashmir by withdrawing channel’s security clearance, without which it will need to stop broadcasting in the country.

Economic Times quoted sources over the decision claiming the decision ‘stemmed from the broadcast of a documentary about militancy in Kashmir that was deemed as being biased.’ 

Aljazeera’s fate now depends on the home ministry’s ruling on a petition by the channel seeking a review, top officials were quoted in the report.

The news organization was given security clearance by the home ministry on December 3, 2010 and withdrawn on May 29, 2018.

“The channel told the government in its representation that the documentary on militant networks in Kashmir devoted a substantial 10 minutes to the central government’s efforts and the views of its officials. This was in the complete version of the documentary but was missed by home ministry officials in the edited version presented to them,” the channel has said.

In 2015, the channel was suspended for five days because it showed an incorrect map of India with respect to Jammu and Kashmir. Al Jazeera was suspended because it was a repeat offence, an official said. The channel showed a blank screen for five days with a message to this effect: “As instructed by the ministry of information and broadcasting, this channel will not be available from 00.01 hours on April 22 till 00.01hours on April 27, 2015.”

“The government is keen to call out and prevent any adverse reporting on Kashmir by foreign media outlets,” sources told ET.

In May, the external publicity division of ministry of external affairs (MEA) sent letters to foreign journalists reminding them that they require prior permission to travel to certain areas under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan.

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