Customs men assault newsmen
PESHAWAR- Five journalists were severely beaten up and their equipment taken away by the Customs Mobile Squad near Peshawar Press Club. The mobile squad officials, who were allegedly trying to strike a deal with a small-time tyres smuggler, presumed that the journalists, who were covering a demonstration of a minorities group, had taken their snaps.
They snatched their equipment, including video and still cameras and later on handed them over to the local police after smashing them.
An First Information Report (FIR) was registered at the West Cant Police Station against a deputy superintendent, Atta Muhammad, inspector Sanaullah and three constables, Said Gul, Shams and Aslam. The members of the Peshawar Press Club held a demonstration and a procession was taken out which handed over a memorandum at the Governor’s House.
One of the injured journalist, Tanzeelur Rehman, photographer of Daily Jang, was taken to a hospital where he was discharged after being provided treatment. The other four journalists were Amjad Aziz Malik of Jeo television, Waheedullah Khan of daily Statesman, Azam Khan of daily Ausaf and Imran Mehr Chaudhry of daily Express.
The affected journalists claimed that they were covering a demonstration when, all of a sudden, the customs officials attacked them. “They took us on gun-point and snatched our cameras,” said Tanzeel, whose shirt was torn.
Traffic on the busy Railway Road remained suspended for two hours as the protesting journalists staged a sit-in there. They then started a protest procession, which marched up to the Governor’s house and culminated at the press club.
The protesters were shouting slogans against the customs official. The provincial president of All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (Apnec), Shareef Mohmand, and secretary general of Khyber Union of Journalists, addressed the rally near the Governor’s House.
They asked the government to rein in the customs department as it had let loose a reign of terror in the city.
They said the government had promised that there would be a single checking point of customs, but the mobile squads had been cruising their vehicles through the city and harassing people and openly receiving bribes from smugglers.