Exclusive: Govt directed Kashmir newspapers to ‘greet readers’ on I-Day

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Srinagar: The newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir were asked by the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) to publish greetings of Independence Day to their readers on the front pages, which were then published by most of them. 

A series of emails were sent by the DIPR to the nearly one hundred newspapers published in Kashmir valley in which they were directed to publish the advertisement in their Sunday editions.

The copy of the mail was shared with The Kashmir Walla by employees including an editor associated with at least two newspapers.

An editor of a newspaper, which was the recipient of the email, told The Kashmir Walla that the contents of the mail were revised three times as the space allocation was repeatedly changed.

The editor, who requested not to be named, said the department had first asked them to provide the advertisement space measuring 10 columns centimeter.

 “That was (then) revised twice as in a separate mail (they) asked to increase the space to 100 column centimeter. Finally it was again revised to 20 centimetre or 30 centimetre,” the editor said.

The content of the mail sent by the DIPR to the newspapers read: “Revised final space please read 20 cm or 30 cm instead of 100 col cm of the below mentioned complimentary advertisement.” 

“The said advertisement already reached to ur office through official portal kindly acknowledge the said advertisement should be published on tomorrow edition positively on front page color top right or left of the paper side,” the email read.

The DIPR email had also included a preset format of the advertisement which it asked to be published. “WISHES READERS A VERY Happy INDEPENDENCE DAY,” the advertisement read. Another version carried its translation in Urdu for Urdu language newspapers.

An employee of a newspaper said it was for the first time such instructions had come from the DIPR to publish such an advertisement. “We have to abide by it or we may lose government advertisements,” the official said. 

On Saturday night, hours after the newspapers received the email, The Kashmir Walla contacted an official of the DIPR who dismissed the reports of the mail as “fake news”.

In response to a query sent over WhatsApp messaging application, the official responded: “No such direction is there. Fake news circulated. Don’t pay heed to rumours.”

An hour after speaking to the official of the DIPR, sources in the newspapers informed The Kashmir Walla that they received a call from the DIPR late at night and were directed to design their own advertisements instead of publishing the preset advertisement. 

“The communication was at the time when many newspapers were ready for print, due to which they could not design the advertisement on their own,” the employee said.

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