Another van of The News set on fire -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Another van of The News set on fire

Pakistan Press Foundation

RAWALPINDI: Unidentified assailants equipped with lethal weapons set a van carrying the copies of ‘The News’ to Islamabad on fire after creating panic among the people here at the Committee Chowk on Friday morning.

The people who witnessed the scene confirmed that the assailants were carrying lethal weapons and acted as professional fighters. “Their delivery was not like normal citizens or agitators but they seemed trained people,” the witnesses said.

Driver of ‘The News’ van Muhammad Razzaq said that around 10-12 gunmen, carrying Kalashnikovs, and pistols suddenly jumped in front of the van and pointed their guns towards him, asking him to come out of the vehicle if he wanted to save his life or they would burn him alive. He said that three attackers were holding pistols and the remaining were carrying Kalashnikovs.

“I am working with the UDN (Universal Dispatch Network) attached with the delivery network of the Jang Group as a driver for the last two years,” Razzaq said in his complaint lodged with the police, adding that he left the Al-Rehman Building on his van (registration number RIS-1011) after loading 7,000 copies of ‘The News’ for the Akhbar Market, Aabpara, at 5:05am. As he reached the Committee Chowk bus stop at about 5:10am, 10 to 12 bearded people suddenly jumped in front of the van and asked him to come out of the vehicle or he would be burnt alive. On his resistance, they dragged him out of the van, sprinkled kerosene oil on the vehicle and newspapers and set them on fire.

“The leading assailants were speaking Urdu in a Pashto slang while others were silent but active,” the driver said. He said that two among them, carrying cans of kerosene, came forward, sprinkled it on different parts of the vehicle and newspapers, threw a burning match stick on the newspaper copies and set the vehicle on fire. The assailants kept watching the burning van for a while and later ran away while shooting in the air.

The vehicle was destroyed within a few minutes before firefighters of Rescue-1122 could arrive.An atmosphere of fear was created in the area and the people rushed to safer places when the assailants waved lethal weapons, the witnesses said, adding that traffic at the Committee Chowk and adjacent roads was choked and remained suspended for hours.

The police high-ups later reached the scene and took obligatory action after collecting evidence from the crime scene and recorded statements of the people who had witnessed the episode.After the burning of The News van, the newspaper copies were again printed and distributed late in Islamabad.

It is a general perception of the people belonging to civil society and other walks of life that pleading its case in the court of law and before the people of Pakistan is the basic right of theGeo/Jang Group but the power active behind the scene is trying to silence the voice of Geo and Jang by resorting to such heinous and low-bred tactics.

“Public opinion is turning in favour of the Jang Group after the group’s administration tendered an apology as the religious scholars unanimously believed that doors of Allah Almighty are forever open and He always accepts request for forgiveness,” experts said.

“The News and Jang are not doing anything against the social or religious norms but simply pleading their case to seek justice. In these circumstances, why did some people attack The News?” they asked, adding, “There are some other powers active behind the scene who want to gain their objectives in the garb of spreading hatred against the Geo/Jang Group.”

The police have taken up the case and registered an FIR with the Ganjmandi Police Station against the unknown assailants on the complaint of the driver of the van, Muhammad Razzaq, under sections 436, 341, 427, 148, 149 PPC and started an investigation.

The News