Warning letter to Hamza Abbasi for 'rumour-mongering' -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Warning letter to Hamza Abbasi for ‘rumour-mongering’

Pakistan Press Foundation

LAHORE: The Punjab government has issued a warning letter to actor Hamza Ali Abbasi for spreading rumours regarding missing children and creating a sense of insecurity in the general public through social media.

Stating that the actor did not verify the information before posting on his Facebook on Aug 3, the Punjab Public Prosecution Department on Wednesday issued a letter to Mr Abbasi asking him to take immediate corrective action and acknowledge his error. “In case, this does not happen, the government will be constrained to initiate legal action against you for spreading rumours, which created panic in the public at large,” the department warned.

Mr Abbasi had on Aug 3 posted on his Facebook status that “in three months, over 900 children were kidnapped in Punjab including 400 in Lahore alone”. He also posted a private news channel TV screen snapshot carrying National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq’s picture and his statement that “such incidents continue happening”.

Mr Abbasi also commented that the ruling politicians had become insensitive animals and he was afraid that the nation would again vote for those animals and send them to the corridors of power. “Siyasat ke chakkar mein yeh log bayhiss jaanwar ban chukkay hain aur mujhay darr hai ke meri qaum inn jaanwaron ko dobara hukamraan bana de gi,” was what he wrote in Urdu.

Punjab Public Prosecution Department Additional Secretary (prosecution) Mahmood Hassan stated in his letter that the government, while investigating reports regarding missing children, came across your Facebook post on Aug 3, 2016, wherein you had stated that in three months over 900 children had been kidnapped including 400 in Lahore alone. The letter stated that the records, however, showed the number of children, who went missing over the last three months (May, June and July), was less than one third that you reported. “The post was, therefore, exaggerated and it created a sense of insecurity in the general public. This was not expected from a media personality of your stature,” the letter said.

The additional secretary stated that the government was making all-out efforts to trace the missing children and bring them back to their parents. Stating that the government takes all reports of missing children and/or reports of offence against children very seriously and attends to such complaints at the earliest, the additional secretary regretted that spreading of rumours and creating panic among the masses was not expected of responsible citizens.

The Punjab government has asked the actor to take immediate corrective action but did not give him any time frame for responding to the warning letter.

Mr Abbasi, while talking to different news channels, claimed that he had taken the figures from a national English newspaper. He said the Punjab government should take action against the newspaper management instead of sending warning notice to him.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said strict action would be taken against the actor, if his answer would not be found satisfactory.