'Intelligence officials', police thrash journalists -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

‘Intelligence officials’, police thrash journalists

* Journalists claim they were subjected to severe torture
* Punjab CM apologises, orders arrest of officers involved in incident

LAHORE: Police and officials of an intelligence agency thrashed and detained half a dozen media men over a minor issue near the CMÂ’s Secretariat on Wednesday.

The journalists from print and electronic media staged a strong protest to press upon the Civil Lines Police to register cases against the police and the agency sleuths.

As per details, on Wednesday, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif hosted a function in honour of the Chief Minister Balochistan Aslam Raisani and students from Balochistan after allowing them admission in Punjab as a goodwill gesture. Media was also invited for the coverage of the event.

A senior reporter of a private TV channel tried to park his car in the nearby Zoo’s parking, adjacent to the office of the CM. A constable, Farooq approached him and ordered him not to park the car there, after which the reporter and Farooq exchanged harsh words.

Meanwhile, during the clash, three friends of Farooq gathered around the journalist and beat him up severely. Correspondents from other news channels also reached the spot to control the situation.

According to the journalists, few men in civil clothes took everyone inside the intelligence officials’ office and detained them for a half hour. The journalists claim that they were subjected to severe torture.

Journalists present at the function, after knowing about the brutal mishap, immediately rushed to the scene and blocked the Mall Road where they lodged a protest demonstration against the Punjab Police and intelligence officials.

The president of the Lahore Press Club said that the media always remained a soft target for the government. He said that the journalists would not bear such acts.

Authorities including PML-N MPA Zayeem Qadri on the directions of Shahbaz Sharif, talked to the journalists’ representatives. The CM on the demand of the journalists, ordered the immediate arrest of the four accused policemen. Civil Lines Police has also registered a case against the four accused and their accomplices on the complaint of the Lahore Press Club President.

Later on, Punjab CM also called the journalists inside his office and held a meeting with them in this regard and apologised for the untoward incident. The CM constituted a four-member committee under the supervision of Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood. The committee with the help of media representatives would probe such cases in future.

Punjab Union of Journalist President Rai Husnain Tahir has also condemned the incident by saying that there was no difference between dictatorship and democracy and the so-called democratic rulers were following the footsteps of dictators and were trying to oppress the media.
Source: Daily Times
Date:11/11/2010