Mukesh Rupeta, Correspondent of Geo in Jacobabad Awarded the Second UNESCO Supported Press Freedom Award
Karachi Nov. 29 (PPI): The Second Annual PPF-Aslam Ali Press Freedom Award 2007 was awarded on November 28, 2007 to Mukesh Rupeta, correspondent in Jacobabad of The News and “Geo TV”.
The award, instituted by Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), with support of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognises a person, organisation or institution that has made a notable contribution to the defence of press freedom in Pakistan in 2006 and carries a cash award of one hundred thousand rupees (Rs. 100,000).
Rupeta along with his cameraman Sanjay Kumar was picked by the law enforcement agencies personnel on in Jacobabad March 6, 2006 on charges of filming the military airbase used by US forces. He was held illegally by the intelligence agencies and repeatedly tortured for over three months before being produced before a court on June 22, 2006.
Talking of his mistreatment during his detention, Rupeta said. “I can’t tell you what they have done to me. I thought I would be killed the way they treated me.” Rupeta was in such a bad condition that his wife and children did not recognise him when they saw him in the court. The government had initially denied all knowledge of his whereabouts and his family and colleagues were not allowed to contact him during his illegal confinement.
Rupeta was released after “Geo” expressed fears about his safety following the discovery of the dead body of journalist Hayatullah Khans in North Waziristan tribal area a week earlier.
The award is named in honour of Late Aslam Ali, Founding Trustee of Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) and Chairman of Pakistan Press International (PPI) news agency, who was recognised by the International Press Institute (IPI) in 2000 as one of the fifty press freedom heroes of the twentieth century.