Case against Bahawalnagar journalist withdrawn after massive protests

Bahawalnagar( Rural Pakistan)The journalists here lodged a strong protest against the arrest of The Nation’s Bahawalnagar Correspondent Sohail Khan by police after implicating him and his brother in a fictitious case for exposing local officials’ corruption.
In Bahawalnagar, hundreds of journalists, lawyers, traders, students and civil society members urged the police withdraw the case registered against the reporter and his brother. Sohail Khan had highlighted the corruption issues related to Assistant Commissioner Bahawalnagar and also reported the stories of police failure in the district.
After which the administration got annoyed and registered a fake case of non- bail-able offenses against the journalist and his brother Asim Khan. Later, the police arrested them. Over the administration’s high-handedness, the journalist community launched the massive protest. They staged protest demonstration in front of police station ‘A’ Division. They also staged a sit-in there which continued for 6 hours.
Hundreds of protesters also took out a protest rally against the incident from Bahawalnagar Press Club building to DCO office. The protesters blocked the DCO office road for hours and staged a sit-in there.
During the protest, the gates of the AC and DCO offices were locked and heavy police contingent was also deployed. A protest meeting was held there. In which the representatives demanded withdrawal of the case and acquittal of the journalist. They also demanded ‘impartial probe ‘ of the incident. After talks, the administration withdrew the case and acquitted the journalist. Meanwhile, the divisional commissioner ordered a probe and transfer of the AC. Later, the protest turned into mega jubilation.
In Sialkot, Daska, Sambrial, Uggoki, Head Marala, Chawinda, Badiana, Pasrur and surrounding areas, a condemnation meeting was held. Sialkot Press Club Chairman Anwar Hussain Bajwa and Secretary General Naeem Iqbal jointly chaired the meeting. Senior journalists Zafar Malik, Abid Hussain Mehdi, Abdul Shakoor Mirza, Arif Mehmood Sheiklh, Humayoun Iqbal Malik and others condemned the registration of a fake case against the journalist for what they said going against the local administration.
They said that the journalists were the eyes and ears of the society and the government should protect them from the bureaucratic highhandedness. They asked the PML-N government to ensure the freedom of press in the country. They also termed it an attack on the freedom of the media. They urged Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to transfer the Bahawalnagar assistant commissioner to avert a country-wide protest. The protest would spread in every nook and corner of the country if the victims were not provided with justice, they said.
The Sialkot journalists expressed complete solidarity with the victim and demanded his immediate release, withdrawal of the case and stern legal action against the administration.
Likewise, human rights activist and District Bar Association President Shahid Mir Advocate, PTI leaders Usman Dar, Shah Nawaz Cheema, Shamshad Ahmed Bajwa Advocate, Khawaja Arif Ahmed Advocate, barrister Jamshaid Malik, Umer Farooq Myere, Syeda Farha Azami and others have also strongly condemned the registration of fake case against Sohail Khan and his brother.
They said it violation of the human rights. The PTI leaders said that the PML-N government had failed to ensure freedom of the media and protection of journalists in the country and that the nasty situation should an eye opener and a point of grave concern for the government.
They also passed several condemnation resolutions and demanded their early release.
In Daska, a protest meeting was held. Haji Ghulam Nasir Mughal (Correspondent Nawa-i-Waqt) chaired the meeting. They termed the Bahawalnagar administration’s action against an attack on the freedom of the media.
Besides, Markazi Anjuman Tajraan Daska chairman Muhammad Afzaal Mansha, Daska Bar Association President Ch Ehsanullah Ghuman demanded immediate release of Sohail Khan and his brother.
In Minchinabad, dozens of journalists staged a protest against jail term given to the reporter who was working on a story about alleged corruption of AC Abdul Fatah.
Wearing black ribbons and chanting slogans, they said, “Any attack on the press freedom is intolerable. They were carrying banners inscribed with “Right to Information is life of democracy”. Nearly 30 reporters marched down decrying the arrest of the reporter.
They urged the high authorities to ensure immediate release of the victims. The District Union of Journalists and Correspondents in Minchinabad also released a statement following Sohail’s arrest, calling it “a new attempt to attack the independence of the press by district establishment”. They called the AC a swindler, corrupt and a grafter official who, what they said, intimidated journalists and discouraged them from performing their duties.
In Khanewal, The members of the District Press Club, the Senior Working Journalist Forum, Association of Electronic Media Associations of Khanewal protested in front the Press Club against the AC over registration of the fake case.
The meeting was attended by Tahir Naseem (Jang), Quzlam Bashir Ahmad (APP, PTV), Muhammad Ashraf Gadhi (Aaj TV), Khalid Mehmood Ch (Khabrian), Arshad Awan (Metro News), Aamir Hussaini (Daily Khabrain), Sohail Awan (Naya Akhbar), Mian Irshadul Haq (Nawa-e-Waqt), Syed Shafqat Ali Shah (Local Views), Misaq Anjum (NNI), Rahid Bin Ameer (Express), Abdul Sattar Jutt (Jinnah), Malik Muhammad Aslam (Jinah), Azhar Sohail (Crime) among others.
In Rahim Yar Khan, the Rahim Yar Khan Union of Journalists observed black day against the arrests. A protest was held at Railway Chowk. RUJ President Rana Afzal said that arrests could stop them from reporting against corruption. PTI district President Rana Raheel Ahmed Khan said that government should immediately release them..
Sources. Nation/RMNP

Suhail Khan in Police Station Lock up

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