Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have banned the publication of a local newspaper after accusing it of inciting violence in the disputed Himalayan region.
The order, handed down by police officials to the office of the English daily Kashmir Reader, said the paper's contents are "of such nature that can easily cause incitement of acts of violence and disturbance of public tranquility in the state."
Authorities said they had sent the newspaper a notice a week ago questioning some items it had published.
However, Hilal Mir, the newspaper's editor, said on Tuesday that his paper was not given an opportunity to explain its stand.
"There was no prior notice or communication from the government," Mir said, adding, "If there was a problem with the content, they could have sought an explanation from us."
The move comes weeks after local authorities briefly banned the publication of all newspapers across the Muslim-majority region and stopped Internet services.
Journalists have staged a rally in Srinagar, the region's main city to protest the ban, calling it a violation of press freedom.
Amnesty: Setback to free speech
The human rights group Amnesty International in a statement on Tuesday said that the ban was a "setback to free speech" and called on authorities to revoke the order.
"The government has a duty to respect the freedom of the press, and the right of people to receive information," the international rights group said, adding, "It cannot shut down a newspaper simply for being critical of the government."
Meanwhile, Aakar Patel, who heads the Indian chapter of Amnesty International, also said that the "order does not specifically mention any news items in Kashmir Reader that incited violence."
"This vaguely-worded shutdown order suggests that the newspaper is being targeted for its reporting," Patel noted.
The developments come as the restive Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests since early July, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.
Tens of thousands of government troops have been deployed to the region and nearly 90 people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown, which has so far failed to halt the protests.
New Delhi accuses Pakistan of arming and training militants fighting for Kashmir’s independence from India. Pakistan, however, denies the allegations.
Tensions between News Delhi and Islamabad have escalated since a militant assault on an Indian army base killed at least 19 soldiers on September 18.
Kashmir has long been at the center of a conflict between the two neighbors. They have fought three wars over the Himalayan region since they gained independence from Britain some 70 years ago.