Senior journalist beaten in presence of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa minister
By: Anaam Raza & Murtaza Ali Shah
LONDON: A senior Pakistani journalist has lodged a complaint with the Metropolitan police in London that he was tortured in the presence of Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), at a controversial awards ceremony here.
Mujahid Omar, who has been working in Pakistani community for more than a decade as a professional journalist was allegedly beaten on Saturday night while he was performing his professional duties. He has registered a police complaint (crime ref: 6557733/12) against the awards ceremony organisers — Pakistan Achievement Awards UK & Europe – that he was tortured, beaten and thrown out of the ceremony and threats of violence have been issued to him.
Mujahid Omar, who is in his early 60s, was attending the event after the awards organisers invited him to the event for coverage but half the way through he was stopped from working and abusive language was used against him. Mujahid Omar was stopped from filming as the ceremony descended into chaos when the awards organisers attacked Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK and the government of Pakistan for refusing to endorse the awards.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was made chief guest of the event, was shocked and embarrassed when he saw the awards organisers acting in a lewd manner, issuing taunts and threats to the government. In his speech Mian Iftikhar defended the government of Pakistan but the organisers ensured that Mujahid Omar could not cover his speech on two cameras. He was asked to hand over the footage of the speeches in which abusive language was used for Pakistani government officials. When he refused, the journalist was pushed, shoved and distress was caused to him, according to his statement to the police.
The KP minister, who is in Birmingham on a visit, confirmed that he was “misled” and was told that Pakistan’s High Commission was supporting the event and that “many government ministers would be there.”
“I couldn’t believe the level of negativity. I defended the role of Pakistani government and its missions abroad who are doing a fantastic job in promoting the interests of Pakistan. For selfish reasons, some people are selling the name of Pakistan at every opportunity through lies and deceits, such people should not be encouraged.”
Mujahid Omar said: “I have served Pakistani community all my life in a professional way but I was disgusted and astonished the way I was treated by the awards organisers. I was thrown out of the awards and I was tortured. My left arm has been badly hurt and I have not been able to sleep for two nights now. I am living in a state of terror and fear and I have approached the police to provide me protection and security.” “I explained to the security people that I was attending the event on invitation but my pleas were ignored and I was treated very badly.” The incident happened in front of community members but none of the so-called community leaders had the courage to come to the rescue of the hapless journalist.
The video of the incident shows a man introducing himself as “head of security” to the journalist and asking him to leave the venue. When the journalist protests, the security man tells him that he has been asked by the “management” to leave the venue. The video shows the security man issuing threats to the journalist, including use of force. In the end more security men were called and the journalist was thrown and allegedly bundled and beaten in a dark corner of the hall, according to the journalist. A spokesman for the awards ceremony said: “We are aware of the incident. We are investigating why the security beat up senior journalist.”