Police detain, manhandle photojournalists -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Police detain, manhandle photojournalists

ISLAMABAD: The capital police manhandled and detained three photojournalists for taking snaps of the jailed PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, when he was being brought to an accountability court in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

The police also baton charged the Pakistan People’s Party workers, who had gathered outside the court.

The action was taken when a heavy contingent of police, escorting Mr. Zardari from Pims hospital reached the accountability court and a group of photojournalists took some pictures of the former senator, who was looking very lean due to his poor health conditions.

Those who were manhandled and detained at least for three hours included Ishaque Chaudhry of Dawn, Shabir and Nadeem Siddiqui. The police also tried to snatch their cameras. However, the photojournalists, refused to hand over their cameras to the police and, in the melee they also sustained some minor bruises.

Later, they were taken to a nearby police station where some army personnel asked them to hand over their exposed film rolls.

“We had no other option but to hand over the rolls to an army Major,” Ishaque Chaudhry said. “However, we managed to conceal some of the exposed rolls,” he added.

The detention of photojournalists was also agitated by Mr. Zardari in the court. The judge directed the police officers to immediately release them.

Earlier, the police ignoring a medical certificate issued by Dr Rizwan Taj advising Mr. Zardari complete rest for two days took him to the accountability court. The doctor in the certificate had stated that the patient was suffering from serious anxiety, dizziness and vomiting.

Later, Mr. Zardari condemned the arrest of press photographers by the police.

Our Reporter adds: The PPP has condemned the manhandling of Mr. Zardari by the sleuths of the regime in forcibly removing him from the hospital despite the doctors advise of rest and treatment to the former senator.

According to the PPP media cell, during the hearing of the Steel Mills case on Wednesday at which the defence counsel, Farooq Naek, submitted that he would not be able to attend the court on Thursday due to hearing of Benazir Bhutto’s constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court on that day.

He requested that the Steel Mills case may not be heard on August 29. Another defence counsel, Raja Anwar, also pleaded that he too had to appear before a court at Lahore in some other cases and that in the absence of Mr. Naek he would not be in a position to argue the case effectively.

Despite this request by the defence counsels, the judge adjourned the hearing till August 29. On August 29, doctors advised two days complete bed rest to Mr. Zardari on account of indisposition and gave him a medical certificate in this regard. However, on Thursday at about 11am, a NAB official came to the hospital and took forcibly the ex-senator to the court against medical advice.

The pressmen, who had in the meantime gathered in the hospital were also manhandled by the police.
Source: The Dawn
Date:8/30/2002