By Our Correspondent
GILGIT: Saturday,March 15-21,2008
People from a cross-section of society including political activists and media persons have strongly condemned police brutality against journalists in Gilgit and called upon the government to give exemplary punishment to those involved in the incident.Terming the incident state terrorism, they criticized the government for letting loose the police to resort to shameful and barbaric excesses against innocent journalists during their professional assignments.The Gilgit Union of Journalists secretary-general Sharafuddin Faryad was beaten up by over a dozen policemen outside the Girls Degree College Gilgit during an official function held in connection with the International Women’s Day. Later, when one of his colleagues, Manzar Shigri, came to his rescue, he was also thrashed. Two ASIs and about 15 policemen swoopd on the two media persons and one of them hit Faryad’s head with a piece of rock. As a result, he fell on the ground profusely bleeding and was taken to the District Headquarters Hospital, where he remained unconscious for over four hours. The injured journalist is still admitted to the hospital. The Gilgit Union of Journalists and the Gilgit Press Club in a meeting condemned the incident and asked the government to dismiss all the police officials involved in the incident. They demanded registration of a case against ASI Basharat for leading the `attempt to murder attack’ on the journalists. The meeting also expressed dissatisfaction over the police inquiry conducted at the City police station into the incident.They warned that if proper action was not taken against the culprits and the responsible officials were not brought to the book, a countrywide protest would be launched against the government. Meanwhile, the People’s Students Federation Northern Areas chapter president Manzoor Hussain and general secretary Badruddin Badar have also condemned the incident and termed it an open police terrorism against the press. They said if stern action was not taken against the policemen, similar incidents would occur and nobody would remain safe from the excesses of the police. The Balawaristan National Front (BNF) also condemned the incident and demanded registration of an FIR against all the police officials. In a statement, a BNF leader Burhanullah said the police had failed to perform their responsibilities of curbing crime and safeguarding the life and property of the people but were quick in violating human rights and attacking unarmed civilians. Former member District Council and nationalist leader Ijlal Husaain, in a press statement, also condemned the incident and called upon the authorities concerned to take action against the accused. Mir Ghazanfar orders actionChief Executive Northern Areas Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan has directed the interior department to take action against the police officers and personnel involved in attacking the journalists. A directive issued from the Chief Executive Secretariat Gilgt said the chief executive had taken strong notice of the incident and ordered action against the responsible officials. It said a compliance report should also be sent to the CE forthwith.Meanwhile, Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan sent bouquets to the injured journalist. Deputy Secretary Northern Areas Cantt Mohammad Hussain and personal staff officer Rehan Shah on Wednesday visited the injured journalist at the DHQ hospital and presented him the bouquets on behalf of the chief executive. Rani Attiqa Ghazanfar telephoned from Islamabad and inquired after the condition of the injured journalist at the DHQ hospital. She expressed concerns over the incident and also sent bouquets to the injured journalist.
By Our Correspondent