Journalist verbally assaulted by police during by-election coverage
While covering by-elections in the Punjab province, a reporter for ARY News was verbally assaulted by Lahore’s capital city police officer. Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) condemns the incident. Journalists should be allowed to work without such challenges and their role in ensuring free and fair elections through accurate reporting must not be threatened.
On July 19, ARY News reporter Hassan Hafeez was verbally attacked by Lahore’s CCPO Bilal Siddiqui allegedly for questioning the role of police during a riot.
Speaking to PPF, Hafeez said that he was covering by-polls in the PP-168 constituency in Lahore when he noticed some clashes between workers of various political parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
According to reports, voting was halted at some polling stations in the constituency amidst clashes between various political parties.
Hafeez said that police and the Dolphin Force were present at the site but were unable to handle the situation till Pakistan Rangers arrived.
When CCPO Siddiqui visited the polling station later in the day, Hafeez had questioned him about why the police were unable to do anything despite polling being stopped for hours.
In response the CCPO asked Hafeez how he dared to say this and demanded an apology from the journalist. As per Hafeez, Siddiqui also ordered a constable to take the journalist inside, adding that he “wants to harass him”.
At the end of the same media talk, the CCPO asked the reporter what media organization he belonged to and when he said ARY News, the police official said that he expected this from that network and abused Hafeez.
A package of the incident was aired by ARY News however no further action was taken.
Lahore Press Club president Azam Chaudhry has demanded further action against the CCPO and said that such actions must be stopped.
“No one can stop the voice of the press,” he said.
Source: Pakistan Press Foundation