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Ban on television back in J

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Srinagar (UNI): All news and entertainment channels have yet again gone off air in the entire Kashmir valley from this morning after four militant organisations warned of a ''fidayeen (suicide)'' attack on the cable operators for resuming the services. In a faxed statement to the local media here, Abdullah Mubarak, who identified himself as the spokesman of Al Madina Regiment, Al Badr Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen outfits, said the militant groups have decided to continue the ban on cable operations in the Valley as ''the Kashmiri youth were going astray because of this''.

He also referred to Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of Faith) Chief Asiya Andrabi's statement in which she had blamed the government agencies for the ban on cable services in order to divert the public attention from the vital issue of the recently-surfaced sex scandal. ''This does not divert the attention. Instead, this would sensitise the Kashmiri society. We request sister Asiya not to play the role of a militant spokesman and rather mind her own activities while serving the cause of Islam,'' the statement said. The spokesman warned the cable operators of a ''fidayeen attack'' in case they resume operations on their own or at the behest of the state government.

Earlier on Sunday, a hitherto unknown militant outfit, Al Madina Regiment, warned cable operators in Kashmir to close down their operations within ten days. A spokesman of the outfit, Abdullah Malik, in a statement to a local news agency, said the group has taken strong strong note of the growing immodesty in the Kashmiri society. He alleged that cable operators were airing obscene programmes and asked them to close down their operations in ten days time. However, on Tuesday the Jammu and Kashmir government assured the cable operators of complete protection.

An official spokesman, in a statement here on May 9, said it had come to the notice of the state government that the militants have threatened the cable operators here and asked them not to show news and other channels. ''The state government has taken a serious note of this and has assured full protection to the cable operators for their normal activities,'' he added. The spokesman said the police officers concerned have been directed to provide adequate protection to all those cable operators who feel threatened of such militant action.

Despite the assurance, the cable operators on May 10 stopped beaming all news and entertainment channels. ''Many cable operators in the Kashmir valley received threats on telephone to stop beaming of news and entertainment channels. We have done so from this evening,'' a cable operator told UNI here. Earlier on that day, Ms Andrabi, in a news conference, blamed the ''government agencies'' and those involved in the sex racket for threatening cable operators and beauty parlours in Kashmir. ''No militant outfit has issued any threats to the cable operators or the beauty parlours. They should not lend ears to such threats. It is an attempt to divert the attention of the people from this vital issue,'' she added. The Hizbul Mujahideen later termed as ''unnecessary'' the ban on the cable network in Kashmir, saying the restrictions have been issued only to divert the people's attention from the sex scandal.

Hizb spokesman Junaid-ul-Islam, in a statement to the local media here, said the people of Kashmir, under the banner of Dukhtaran-e- Millat, would expose the culprits involved in the sex racket. ''The ban issued by militants is an unnecessary step as it has distracted the attention of the people from the sex scandal and other licentious activities,'' he added. The spokesman said only the private TV channels were highlighting the agitaiton launched by the people against the abuse. The Hizb appealed to the militant outfits to immediately lift the ban on cable network and allow the operators to resume services. Hours after the Hizb statement, cable operators started airing news and entertainment channels yesterday. ''We have started beaming the news and entertainment channels from this afternoon following positive statements by the Hizb and other organisations,'' a cable operator had told UNI yesterday.

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