The News chief reporter abducted, thrashed | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

The News chief reporter abducted, thrashed

ISLAMABAD- Five unidentified persons kidnapped Shakil Shaikh, chief reporter of The News, at gunpoint in broad daylight from near the main commercial centre of Islamabad and beat him severely for three and a half hours before abandoning him in a deserted village some miles away.

Shakil sustained multiple injuries including head injury when he was hit with the butt of an AK-47. His hands were tied with a thick rope. Several parts of his body turned blue and black due to the severe beating he got from attackers with gun butts and boots. His shoulders had full imprints of boat heels.

The armed men, following Shakil’s car in a high-powered jeep bearing no registration number, forcibly stopped him on the Kashmir Highway near the Margalla Motel, less than a mile from the main Aabpara centre of Islamabad. They immediately put a cloth on his face and tied his hands. They threw him in their jeep and started beating him severely.

The unknown persons drove Shakil to a deserted area near the Soan Garden housing scheme, a few miles away from the airport turning on the Islamabad Highway but kept beating him all the way and later for over three hours.

“You write too much. Now you will not write anymore,” they told him repeatedly, as he later narrated to newsmen in the hospital. They also threatened that his wife, children and parents would be kidnapped if he did not change his attitude.

After the beating stopped, Shakil somehow untied his bands, removed the mask and found him-self in a deserted place. He found his car standing nearby, driven by one of the attackers. His clothes were torn and stained with blood. After spotting some villagers, Shakil called them for help and asked for water. He remained there for another half an hour to recover a bit and then himself drove his car to his G-9/4 residence in Islamabad. An ambulance by Rescue 15 removed him to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for treatment where he was aborted.

During the beating, Shakil kept asking his attackers to identify themselves but they only replied: “We are kammis (servants) and ranghars” (member of a tribe of Punjab). The attackers took away two cellular phone sets, purse containing cash and different cards, a tape-recorder and other gadgets belonging to Shakil. Editor of The News, Shaheen Sehbai, and The News staff have strongly condemned the attack on their senior colleague and have demanded an immediate enquiry and arrest of the culprits. They called it a blatant attack on the freedom of the press. A report has been lodged with the Secretariat Police Station.

Interior secretary Tasneem Noorani, when contacted, condemned the incident and said he would immediately look into the matter and take all possible measures to trace those who had been behind the incident. “This is an incident that needs to be condemned,” Noorani said and asked whether Shakil Shaikh had any clue as to who was behind the incident.

Lt Gen Ghulam Abmed Khan, Chief of Staff to Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf, talked to Shakil on phone in the PIMS and inquired about his health. Information Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmood and Principal In-formation Officer Ashfaq Gondal visited Shakil in the PIMS.

An official spokesman has strongly condemned the attack on Shakil. When asked to comment, the spokesmen strongly condemning this apparent act of terrorism said the law will take its course and efforts will be made to nab the culprits. The law enforcement agencies have been directed to thoroughly investigate and arrest the culprits. Expressing sympathy with the journalist, the spokesman said, the government believes in freedom of the press and has always taken steps to protect the journalists and facilitate them by providing an atmosphere for performance of their responsibilities without any fear, the spokesman added.

Source: The News