South Asia

Kashmir newspapers suspend production to protest curbs

An army soldier in Srinagar on 9 July 2010
Image caption A curfew is in place in most parts of Kashmir Valley

The owners of newspapers in Srinagar in Indian-administered Kashmir have suspended production because of curbs imposed by the government.

On Wednesday, curfew passes issued to journalists were cancelled, making their movement impossible.

On Friday, fresh passes were issued to some editors and senior journalists.

But owners say they will not be able to resume publication unless all staff return to work. Media groups across India have criticised the curbs.

On Friday, a BBC Urdu service journalist, Riaz Masroor, was stopped and beaten by police as he was going to collect his curfew pass.

He suffered a fractured arm.

In the past month, 14 civilians have died in clashes between protesters and the security forces.

'Curfew widened'

Meanwhile, authorities have extended a curfew to cover 15 towns in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley.

The curfew has been in place for the past three days in Srinagar.

"We have widened the curfew to ensure a violence-free Friday," news agency AFP quoted an unnamed police officer as saying.

Towns such as Kupwara and Handwara in the north, Kakpora and Pulwama in the south and Ganderbal in the east have now been placed under curfew.

On Wednesday, army soldiers marched through Srinagar in a show of force to help quell street protests.

Correspondents say the Indian government is concerned over the situation, especially as the country's foreign minister is due to hold talks with Pakistan next week.

Kashmir is an issue that has long affected relations between the two countries - both claim the territory in its entirety.

The Indian government has already accused Pakistan-based militant groups of instigating the latest protests.

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