Police in Lahore city used violence to bar journalists from covering production of a journalist to a lower court on February 23 snatching cameras and mobile phones to deny coverage which is violation of Press Freedom Pakistani state committed to upholding it.
“It is typical Punjab Police style to stop journalists from covering stories. The police action against journalists is highly condemnable and unwarranted,” Freedom Network, Pakistan’s first media watchdog organization, said in its Press Freedom Alert issued on 05 March 2019.
It added: “We hope the high-level inquiry, ordered by Lahore Police chief, will be held in its true letter and spirit and perpetrators of the crime will be brought to justice.”
On 23rd February, according to journalists who were stopped from the coverage, Model Town police was producing media staffer Shahid Javed to a lower court. ASI Rana Nasir allegedly stopped Anees Bashir, Mirza Ramzan Baig, Shakir Mehmood and Kishwar Lodhi from making video and taking shots of the scene.
“The ASI snatched these photojournalists’ cameras and mobile phones and the police also began beating up these photojournalists,” said Anees Bashir, who works for Lahore Rang News channel.
Representatives of the journalist community brought the issue to the notice of Lahore Police chief who suspended the ASI and ordered inquiry under SSP Model Town Anoush.
Anees Bashir said the affected journalists “rejected the committee” calling it as “just lip service.”
No FIR was lodged against the ASI, he added. According to Anees, no reporter was called to appear before the committee. “The ASI is still working in the police station and wears uniform. His suspension orders have not been implemented in true spirit.”
Punjab is one of unsafe province for journalists. However, these violations mostly go unreported as the provincial government had not yet legislated special law on journalists protection and Freedom Network demands urgent steps in this direction by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government in the province.