Safma concerned over beating of journalists
ISLAMABAD, Sept 22: The South Asian Free Media Association (Safma) on Friday expressed serious concern over the kidnapping of Saeed Sarbazi, senior subeditor of Business Recorder, in Karachi, and police brutality against TV journalists in Lahore, says a press release. Three TV journalists had to be hospitalised after they were brutalised by the police while trying to cover a religious rally of Sunni Tehrik on September 16. The victims, who were admitted to the Mayo Hospital, told a visiting delegation of Safma that Zahid Azeem Malik and Nazir Awan from ATV were stopped from entering Minar-i-Pakistan from Gate Number 1 even after disclosing their identity as journalists, and were asked to speak to DSP Mukhtar Shah. Policemen, on the orders of the DSP, dragged both the journalists out of the car, and also baton charged them. Wadood Mushtaq from ARY One when intervened was also thrashed by the police.
Later, they were detained for 45 minutes at a local police station. After intervention of eminent people, including director-general public relations, the three journalists were admitted to the hospital with fractures and injuries to spinal cord and jaw. Safma also resented action of Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who ordered the local cable operators to suspend the transmission of ARY One in Punjab. The transmission was resumed in the evening of September 21. Mr Wadood told Safma team that his cameraman did shoot the beating incident and telecast the video on ARY One, which also organised a programme on press freedom in which Imtiaz Gul, Mazhar Abbas from Karachi and C.R. Shamsi from Islamabad took part. On one comment, the CM got infuriated and called up Nasrullah Malik, the bureau chief of the channel, and said: “The panelists were asked loaded questions to defame me and my family and you will pay for this.” Later, the police forced the cable operators to blackout the channel’s transmissions, which remained suspended for four days.
Taking a serious note of CM’s action, Safma called for action against the authorities responsible for the violation of law and press freedom. The journalists’ association also condemned the continuing brutalities of police and the agencies, and expressed full support and solidarity with the injured journalists. It also sought the immediate recovery of Saeed Sarbazi.