Journalist bodies, trade unions, intellectuals hold big rally

Raise slogans in favour of freedom of press, release of frozen accounts, newsprint; slam government for targeting Jang; memorandum handed over at Governor House

By our correspondent

KARACHI: The city journalists, newspaper workers and hawkers carried out an impressive rally on Thursday to protest against the government's victimisation of Jang Group of Publications. Besides, journalists and newspapers workers, the rally was also joined by citizens, lawyers and intellectuals to express solidarity with the press.

Starting from the Karachi Press Club after the press conference of Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, Editor In-Chief of Jang Group of Publications, the rally marched to the Governor House. The rally was jointly organised by Jang Publications Employees Union (CBA), Javed Press and Modern Graphics, Service Employee Union (CBA), The News Employees Union (CBA).s

Led by Mir Shakil and office-bearers of the professional bodies of journalists and leaders of the trade unions, the journalists and newspapers workers were holding banners inscribed with slogans for freedom of press and demands for ending the curbs on Jang Group. Emotionally charged newspaper workers were also chanting slogans for a free press, for releasing the frozen Jang accounts, release of the newsprint and against the negative attitude of the regime against the press.

They were wearing black arm bands while some of the participants had also put symbolic masks to protest against the restrains on freedom of press. Some of the participants were also carrying torches while a specially designed float was also moving along with the protesters. A number of women journalists were also marching with the rally holding torches of freedom of press.

Two minor girls were holding a banner saying: 'The victimisation of Jang Group has deprived us of the Jang Children Magazine - who is responsible for this.' A number of the participants wore white T-Shirts displaying slogans of " do not render us jobless." Stop war on Jang." Ham Say Hamara Rozgar Maat Chihhno." The rally was also joined by general public and lawyers as an expression of solidarity with the press.

Prominent among those who participated in the rally were Senior Editor The News Lahore ZA Suleri, Columnist Irshad Ahmed Haqqani, Gul Hameed Bhatti, Editor The News Karachi, Maliha Lodhi, Editor The News Rawalpindi, Kamila Hayat, Editor The News Lahore, Mahmood Sham, Editor Jang Karachi, Shorish Malik, Editor Jang Rawalpindi, Ilyas Shakir, Editor Qaumi Akhbar, PFUJ President Abdul Hameed Chapra, Afzal Mohsin, Secretary General PFUJ ( Dastoori), President Azher Adil Lari and other office bearers of Karachi Press Club, KUJ leaders Wirasat Hasnain, Afzal Baloch, KUJ (Dastoori) leaders Rashid Aziz, Sohail Afzal, Tikka Khan, Secretary General of Hawkers Federation, office bearers of employees union of daily Dawn, Jang Employees Union, Javed Press Union, The News Employees Union besides leaders of the trade uinion of other newspapers.

Leaders of political parties including Munawwar Suharwardy of PPP, Javed Jabbar of Millat Party, Hussain Haqqani of Urban Democratic Front also took part in the rally. On reaching the Governor House, Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman along with the participants of the rally staged a sit-in in front of the main gate of the Governor House. Speaking on the occasion, President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Abdul Hameed Chapra said this impressive show should be an eye opener for the government intending to restrain the fourth pillar of the state.

He said rulers in the past also tried to shackle the press but they had to go while the press continued to perform its duty of exposing the scandals and guiding the masses. Drawing Mir Shakil's attention, Chapra said: "Mir Saheb look all are present here but no one from the APNS and CPNE has bothered to come out on the street for you in this crisis."

He asked the chief of the Jang Group that he was duty bound to take care of the interests of
these poor workers like his children. Leaders of the newspapers hawkers Tikka Khan and president of Javed Press CBA Saeed and others also spoke on the occasion. They assured Mir Shakil of their all out cooperation in the prevailing crisis. Addressing the gathering, Mir Shakil expressed his gratitude to all the journalists and workers for their cooperation at the time when the Nawaz Government was victimising the Jang group. He said struggle for the press freedom would continue and the government cannot gag the voice of press.

He said all the government moves against the Jang Group were infact meant to snatch the press of the freedom which was inevitable for the strength of the society. Editor Jang Karachi, Mahmood Sham and Secretary Jang Union Zakir Ansari presented a memorandum to an officer of the Governor House for the Sindh Governor Lt General (retd) Moinuddinn Haider. The participants of the rally later marched to the Jang office and dispersed peacefully. Heavy contingents of police along with lady cops escorted the rally to avert any ugly incident.

The News International Pakistan