Hyderabad Dawn reporter brutally assaulted
HYDERABAD- Muhammad Hussain Khan, the staff correspondent of ‘Dawn’ in Hyderabad, was brutally assaulted by workers of the Sindh National Front (SNF) on the Radio Pakistan road here on Thursday afternoon while he was on his way to the press club.
He received several head injuries and one of his fingers was fractured. He was rushed to the Liaquat University Hospital, where he received three stitches on his head.
He was later admitted to the Naseem Medical Centre and was stated to be in stable condition.
The cantonment police have registered a case against two unidentified persons on the complaint of Mr Khan.
According to the correspondent, he was attacked with iron rods by two workers of SNF who had been waiting for him on the Radio Pakistan road. “They hurled abuses and started beating me.”
Mr Khan said that one of the assailants specifically rebuked him for putting tough questions to SNF chief Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto last week while the veteran leader was making a statement on the 1997 NFC award. “One of the attackers said to me: ‘How dare you grill Sardar Mumtaz Bhutto’.”
Journalists here were of the view that Mr Khan was assaulted simply because the SNF did not like Mr Khan’s handling of the statement Mr Bhutto had made at the residence of former provincial minister Dr Irfan Gul Magsi.
Mr Bhutto had claimed that he had not signed the sixth NFC award. The report on the statement was published in ‘Dawn’ on Dec 24.According to Mr Khan, the general secretary of SNF, Ayoub Shar, later asked him over telephone to get a clarification published. Mr Shar was told that the clarification should come from the SNF in writing and on the party’s letterhead.
Once such a statement was issued, the clarification would be published, he was told. The SNF leader refused to issue any clarification, adding that Mr Khan must write one on his own. However, a clarification on behalf of Mr Bhutto was published on Dec 26.
According to this clarification, Mr Bhutto’s “caretaker regime had wound up (the process of preparation of) the sixth NFC award. It was announced in 1997 when Liaquat Jatoi was the Sindh chief minister”.
Journalists here said the SNF leadership might be unaware that the clarification had already been published in ‘Dawn’.
SNF activists torched Dawn’s offices in Hyderabad and other towns of Sindh last year after they took ‘offence’ to a story about Mumtaz Bhutto.
CONDEMNATION: The attack on Mr Khan was condemned by the national as well as provincial bodies representing journalists.
The Dawn unit of the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) and the CBA for employees of the Dawn Group of Newspapers expressed concern and anger over the assault.
In a statement, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists said the attack showed society was becoming intolerant. It urged the government to “take action against the culprits who should be proceeded against in accordance with law”.
The KUJ said that an inquiry should be launched to ascertain the facts of the case. It said exemplary punishment should be given to perpetrators of the assault. The KUJ’s unit in Dawn urged the authorities to take note of the maltreatment of journalists.
The Pakistan Herald Workers Union, the labour union of the Dawn group, said that attacks like the one on Mr Khan would not stop journalists from stating the facts.
A general body meeting of the Hyderabad Press Club, presided over by Aziz Malik, resolved that all SNF statements and events would be boycotted by journalists until an apology was tendered by the party’s leadership and the two workers involved in the attack were handed over to police.
Mr Malik said journalists “would never bow to the Kalashnikov”. If a party had differences of opinion with a journalist, it should use civilised ways of putting across its point of view, he added.
Mahesh Kumar, the president of the club, Hameedur Rehman, Ali Hassan, Lala Rehman Samoon, Mohammad Shahid Shaikh, Hamid Shaikh, Abdul Hafeez Abid and Ayoub Leghari also condemned the attack. Later the journalists held a demonstration outside the club.
The attack was widely condemned by bodies representing journalists across Sindh. Rallies and demonstrations were held in all major cities and towns of the province.
Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, in a statement, said he had directed the administration to take action against those involved in the assault.
Provincial Fisheries Minister Zahid Ali Bhurgari, District Nazim of Hyderabad Kanwar Naveed Jamil, JSQM chairman Basheer Khan Qureshi and Mohammad Sharif of the MQM were prominent among the leaders and legislators who visited Mr Khan in hospital.