Journalist arrested, threatened by police in Quetta -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Journalist arrested, threatened by police in Quetta

Jamal Tarakai, 36,Quetta-based photojournalist working for various media organizations, who had filmed the first video of security forces’ firing on the five Chechens including three women on May 17, 2011,was arrested, beaten and abused by police in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan province on morning of June 14, 2011.

Tarakai told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that he was going to Quetta Press Club when policemen on two motorbikes followed him upto 2kilometers and stopped him near Kharotabad Police Station and took him to the police station, where he introduced himself and told that he was going for his routine duty. A policeman threw his identity card to floor and misbehaved. When Tarakai objected, they started beating him dashing on floor. He received bruises on his body. Tarakai said that he made some calls to inform journalists about his arrest who reached at police station and got him released after an hour.

Tarakai said he had been receiving threatening calls on his cell phone since Kharotabad incident but few days back he had received a threat from an unknown man who called at the Quetta Press Club and told the club’s Vice President Yaqoob Shahwani that Tarakai had committed a big mistake by handing over the films and photographs to the tribunal. He said he was feeling insecure because of the police attitude.

President of Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) Issa Tareen said in a statement that Tarakai was receiving threats, but the BUJ did not act because the matter was pending before the tribunal. But, he said, the arrest of Tarakai on Tuesday proved that police were behind the threatening calls.

Tarakai is working as reporter for Daily “Nazim News” and photojournalist and cartoonist for “Independent News Pakistan (INP)”, Daily “Awam”, Daily “Dunya”, Daily “Public” and Daily “Balochistan News”. Tarakai is living with his wife, four sons and a daughter.

It is pertinent to note that Tarakai has presented evidence that negates the claims of Frontier Constabulary (FC) and police officials that the foreigners they brutally gunned down were on a suicide mission. Tarakai has given the tribunal footages of the incident that shows one of the three women raising her hands three times, presumably appealing the FC and police to stop firing. The video has been telecast by many TV channels after Tarakai presented it to the tribunal. FC and police have not contradicted the events shown in the video. Photojournalist also told the tribunal that the foreigners were unarmed.

Same day, Police surgeon Dr. Baqir Shah, who had performed post-mortem of bodies of foreigners and provided facts to the tribunal, was dragged out of his car outside a hotel and thrashed by policemen. He was admitted to a hospital as he received severe wounds in his head.

The inspector-general of Balochistan police has suspended two senior police officers and two constables in connection with alleged harassment of photojournalist Tarakai and police surgeon Dr. Shah.

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has condemned the arrest and threats received by photojournalist Tarakai. In a statement, PFUJ Secretary-General Amin Yousuf said the government should take necessary steps to protect the journalist and provide security to all journalists who were under serious threats. The PFUJ would continue to raise its voice for the journalists’ community and would not rest until the protection of journalists was ensured.

The Senate of Pakistan, on Tuesday, expressed anger over violation of the ruling by the Chairman of Upper House regarding provision of protection to journalist in Quetta who made footage of the Kharotabad incident. A Special Senate Committee headed by Minister for Law and Justice Maula Baksh Chandio was formed after journalists staged walkout from the press gallery in protest against the attack on Tarakai.

Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)