Twenty-three newsmen hurt in police baton charge: Boycott on governor’s remarks
FAISALABAD- About two dozen journalists sustained injuries on Sunday when police baton-charged them outside the Iqbal Stadium after they boycotted Pervez Musharraf’s meeting to protest Punjab Governor’s utterances against newsmen and the national press.
In his address ahead of the president’s speech, Governor Khalid Maqbool accused newsmen of misreporting and undermining the “unprecedented” response of the public towards Pervez Musharraf’s rallies.
“Newspapermen were committing contempt of the public by publishing fake reports on attendance. They were playing with the sentiments of the public and they should know that public could take revenge on them if they did not desist from wrong reporting,” the governor charged.
Maqbool’s remarks followed an identical statement by President Musharraf when he, in his address to councilors at the circuit house in the morning, criticized an English daily’s editorial on his referendum campaign.
Maqbool did not stop here. He appealed to the audience to join him and raise slogans of ‘shame’ ‘shame’ to “denounce misreporting and irresponsible attitude of the mediamen. If the newspaperwalas did not behave the pubic will take them to task,” he said.
The remarks annoyed newsmen sitting in the press enclosure who retaliated by shouting ‘shame on the governor’ and boycotted the meeting. When they came out of the Iqbal Stadium, a contingent of reserve police, without any provocation and warning, resorted to baton-charge. Over two-dozen reporters and photographers of different newspapers were injured.
Those who sustained injuries include A.R. Shuja of Khabrain, Ibrahim Lucky Online Lahore, Mian Aslam of Business Report, Mehtabuddin Nishat of Daily Ghareeb (Faisalabad), Ch.Safraz Sahi of Insaaf, Tahir Rasheed and Tasneem of Khabrain (Faisalabad), Malik Naeem of daily Parwaz, Naseer Cheema of daily Current Report, Dr Hamid Raza of daily Juraat, Ramzan Nasir of daily Tehrik, Mayed Ali of The News, Roman Ihsan of Jang, Ziaullah, Nasir Butt and Khalid of daily Pakistan, Mian Saeef of daily Ausaf, Jawed Saddiqui of daily Musawat, Saeed Qadri of daily Din, Mian Rifaat Qadri of NNI, Jawed Malik of Soorat-i-Hal, Ashfaq Jahangir of daily Parwaz and Muhammad Bilal of daily Current Report.
The newsmen rushed to the Press Club and held a protest meeting which was addressed by Roman Ihsan, Mayed Ali, Jawed Siddiqui, Tahir Rasheed, Agha Arbab Khawar, Shamsul Islam Naz, Rifaat Qadri and Mehtabuddin Nisat.
The speakers condemned the Punjab Governor for using indecent remarks. They said that by threatening and brutally injuring the journalist community the true facade of the military government had been exposed and the people had come to know that they (the army) believed in brutality. They said the baton-charge was uncalled for and unwarranted.
Punjab Home Secretary Brig. Ijaz Shah rushed to the Press Club and condemned the incident on behalf of the Punjab government and termed it uncalled for. He admitted that there was no reason for police action. He clarified that the governor had not condemned the media men as a class.
He was just referring to the editorials of some newspapers, which, according to him, had been “willfully indulging in negative reporting of the public meetings of Pervez Musharraf.”