Govt ads to newspapers is a secret, shady business in IIOJK, says report

Srinagar, October 03 (KMS): India’s Hindutva government is using controlled distribution of advertisements to newspapers in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir to force them toe in its communal agenda.

A Srinagar based English daily, the Kashmir Reader in a report writes: “Not all newspapers in Kashmir are facing a tough time. It is a fact not well known, and the government’s Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) wants to keep it that way, denying information to queries filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.”

“If it has nothing to hide, then the DIPR should come clean on accusations that it is hand in glove with middlemen who take kickbacks from some lesser-known newspapers and get them a lion’s share of the government advertisements.”

Newspaper owners that Kashmir Reader talked to lamented that newspapers with a negligible daily circulation are being allocated way more advertisement than others that are widely read and widely circulated.

“Newspapers selling thousands of copies every day are given a minuscule share of the government advertisements, while at the same time others whose names we get to hear for the first time enjoy privileges and huge benefits from constant, abundant advertisements,” a Managing Director of English daily published from Srinagar told Kashmir Reader.

“These [middle men] people are connected to the power corridors. How else do you think they will manage to pull such tasks with such ease? The nexus is evident,” an editor of English daily told Kashmir Reader.

Concerned, and also affected by the current scenario, Kashmir Reader filed an RTI application to get to the bottom of this nexus, in July last year. The query sought information on newspaper-wise advertisement allocation and criteria adopted for the allocation, among other things.

The RTI was filed to the office of the Public Relations Officer of the DIPR. In reply to the RTI, the office stated that the requisite information was in the domain of Joint Director Information and referred the case to his office.

But the reply to the queries from the office of the Joint Director was not satisfactory.

“It is evident that they are hiding something and the guidelines are not being followed in the allocation of advertisements. There should be transparency and accountability, or it is evident that incompetent people, with vested interests and running shady newspapers, will keep benefiting through these middlemen,” said a Chief Editor of a newspaper.

Repeated attempts to contact Director Information and Public Relations, Akshay Labroo, were unsuccessful. He did not answer his phone.

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