May 2006 News

Cable TV in Kashmir off air again

12 May 2006

London: Cable television operators in Indian administered Kashmir have gone off air again following fresh threats by militant groups, operators say. They had resumed programming on Thursday after threats led to a 24-hours suspension of operations. The operators say four militant groups issued serious threats again. Groups including the Al-Madina Regiment, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Ah-Badar Mujahideen and Harkat- ul-Mujahideen say that cable TV programming is obscene. They have threatened suicide attacks against cable operators who defy their ban. Police protection A cable operator told the BBC that they resumed their operations on Thursday following assurances from some militant organisations and hardline leaders. The alleged sex ring brought angry protests in Kashmir 'We resumed programming after assurances by Hizbul Mujahideen militant group, a hardline female leader Asiya Andrabi and [hardline separatist leader] Syed Ali Shah Geelani.' The groups issuing the threats have dismissed the argument of the main Kashmiri militant group, Hizbul Mujahideen, which argues that the ban on cable TV was orchestrated by the Indian authorities to distract public attention from a sex scandal involving high-ranking government officials. The Hizbul Mujahideen claim was supported by the Dukhtaran-e-Milat women's organisation. On Wednesday, the owner of the main cable TV company in Srinagar told the BBC that the decision to stop programming was taken after several of their offices in the city were visited by militant groups complaining about the 'depraved' nature of their output. Ahmed Amjad said that his staff were not receiving sufficient police protection. Forty channels were affected, including Star Movies, AXN, Reality TV and Star World. Correspondents say that cable TV is valued by some Kashmiris as a way of escaping the horrors of an insurgency by militants opposed to Indian rule. But there has been disquiet in recent weeks over the 'indecent' nature of some of the broadcasts.


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