Newsmen protesting against confiscation of newsprint beaten

By our correspondent

RAWALPINDI: Police ruthlessly thrashed journalists and used abusive language when they protested against the confiscation of a truck, loaded with newsprint belonging to Jang Group on Monday. The fate of the three people, including the truck driver and two others, was not known till midnight. However, sources close to the police disclosed that the truck had been taken to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarter, Islamabad.

At about 5 pm a raiding party comprising police and FIA officials intercepted the truck, carrying newsprint, in front of the Jang building and forced its driver and two other people to move the vehicle towards the FIA Crime Circle office in Saddar.

The latest move of the government agencies sparked a wave of anger and unrest among the employees of Jang Group who gathered outside the Jang building on Murree Road and staged a protest demonstration against the impounding of the truck. Journalists and other employees of the Jang Group marched on the Murree Road and headed towards the FIA office to register their protest against the latest raid.

However, the FIA authorities on seeing the protesting journalists moving towards their office, immediately moved the truck to some unknown place. When the protesting journalists tried to meet some senior FIA officials to get the truck back, the police pushed them back, beat them, used abusive language and stopped them from entering the FIA office.

Some policemen pushed and beat journalists including Mariana Baabar, a lady journalist, Shakil Sheikh and Rana Mubashir. The three were asking the policemen to allow them in the office to talk to some senior officials to solve the issue as the Supreme Court of Pakistan, while granting interim relief, had ordered release of the newsprint on Monday morning.

During exchange of words, some policemen demanded Court's orders in writing. In the meantime, the area magistrate showing his ignorance about the seizure of the truck, reached the scene and went into session with the protesting journalists who were beaten up by the police. The journalists urged the AC to order registration of FIR against the responsible people and also requested for the immediate recovery of the three people on the truck. The protesters were accusing senator Saif-ur-Rehman for raids and impounding of newsprint.

"Although, my duty is to check the law and order but I'll try to contact some of the FIA officials on telephone," the AC Cantt said but his efforts to get the FIA officials on line proved unproductive. The AC, however, asked the journalists to write down an application, if they wanted to lodge a case. Later, the protesters returned to the Jang office and blocked the traffic on Murree Road by setting tyres on fire. The protesters strongly condemned the impounding of newsprint and continued demonstration for over two-and-a- half hours as police watched silently.

The News International Pakistan