India withdraws security clearance of Al-Jazeera after documentary on JK militancy broadcasted

The Ministry of Home Affairs of India has withdrawn the security clearance of Qatar based English news channel, Al-Jazeera. Sources told The Economic Times that the decision stemmed from the broadcast of a documentary about militancy in Kashmir that was deemed as being biased. The news channel’s executives have declined to comment

The fate of the network, which is still on air, now depends on the home ministry’s ruling on a petition by the channel seeking a review, top officials said. According to official documents, the security clearance was given by the home ministry on December 3, 2010 and withdrawn on May 29, 2018. No response from the home ministry to the queries was given.

The channel told the government in its representation that the documentary on militant networks in Kashmir devoted a substantial 10 minutes to the central government’s efforts and the views of its officials. This was in the complete version of the documentary but was missed by home ministry officials in the edited version presented to them, the channel said.

Al Jazeera has been under fire previously for showing an incorrect map of India with respect to Jammu and Kashmir. Al Jazeera was suspended because it was a repeat offence, an official said. The channel showed a blank screen for five days with a message to this effect: “As instructed by the ministry of information and broadcasting, this channel will not be available from 00.01 hours on April 22 till 00.01 hours on April 27, 2015.”

According to sources, the government is keen to call out and prevent any adverse reporting on Kashmir by foreign media outlets. Earlier in May, the external publicity division of ministry of external affairs (MEA) sent letters to foreign journalists reminding them that they require prior permission to travel to certain areas under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan.

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