HRCP condemns newsman’s beating
LAHORE – The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said on December 1, that the brutal beating of senior newsman Zaheer Mahmood Siddiqui by police personnel at the Civil Secretariat was an alarming continuation of an unconscionable ‘police raj’ seen throughout the year.
In a press statement, HRCP Chairperson Tahir Mahmood Khan and Secretary General Hina Jilani said: “It is obvious the administrative officials have been instructed, from the very highest level, to stamp out any attempt to report on the mis doings of the authorities and use maximum force to do so. This makes a mockery of the repeated claims of freedom of expression.”
Siddiqui, a correspondent with the daily Dawn, was dragged off his motorcycle and subjected to a harsh beating as soon as he entered the secretariat with a colleague. DSP Security Yar Mohammad Dogar, to whose office the journalist was taken, ordered he be battered further.
The incident took place in full view of many members of the secretariat staff. It apparently came in retaliation for a news story by Siddiqui, published over a month ago, in which it had been alleged that police guards at the secretariat entrance were demanding bribe before allowing citizens entry to the premises.
The HRCP said: “More shocking still are the reports, quoting a senior official at the secretariat, that the chief secretary himself had ordered a ban on Siddiqui’s entry.”
The commission asked the authorities concerned to penaliz all those law enforcers guilty of attempting to punish newsmen performing their duties under the law. Meanwhile, PFUJ’s former president I.H. Raashid has also condemned the incident.
He has appealed to the journalists community to take notice of the incident which is tantamount to attack on freedom of press, belying the tall claims made by the government for maintaining good relations with the press.
He said a meeting of the Federal Executive Council of the PFUJ was being held in Quetta on Friday, and hoped that the council would also take notice of the incident. Mr Raashid urged the government to take action against the persons who beat up Mr Siddiqui. He said the PFUJ should bring this incident to the notice of the International Federation of Journalists, asking for a proper action.