Nawa-i-Waqt group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rameeza Majid Nizami on Thursday alleged that a Waqt News television team was illegally detained and manhandled by staff at the office of Kashmala Tariq, the Federal Ombudsperson for Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace, in Islamabad.
Nizami, who levelled the allegations in a series of tweets today, said that the team had gone to Tariq's office to record an interview.
However, Tariq allegedly appeared dissatisfied with the interview and, once the recording was complete, her staff was ordered to retrieve and confiscate the footage from the team. When they resisted the move, Tariq's staff allegedly illegally detained and scuffled with them, on her orders.
When Waqt News crew member, Matiullah Jan, who was in possession of the footage, refused to hand it over, he was assaulted, Nizami claimed.
Waqt News' Apna Apna Gareban team was attacked and harassed on the orders of Tariq, Matiullah Jan tweeted. "Our equipment was confiscated and we were illegally kept in detention for an hour or so. Kashmala did not like questions and ordered her staff to detain us and confiscate [the] video," he alleged.
Nizami tweeted that Tariq "was invited to even review the interview, and to see if she found any content objectionable. Yet, she ordered that the team 'will not leave with the footage'. On refusal to hand over video, she ordered her staff to attack our team and forcefully take the footage."
While the alleged detention was underway, Nizami tweeted footage of a scuffle showing men physically restraining others from leaving what appears to be an office.
"Team being forced back into Ms Kashmala Tariq’s office as they try to leave," Nizami tweeted. "The police, as you can see, seems rather helpless. I think they have been restrained by Ms Kashmala’s staff along with our team," she alleged.
After the interview was recorded, the team was getting up to leave when Tariq summoned her staff and "told them not to let our team leave with the footage".
"Ms Kashmala Tariq ordered her staff to take team’s telephones, camera equipment, and footage of the interview," Nizami said, adding that staff member Matiullah Jan took the interview footage and kept it with him.
"He was punched, his jacket was torn, and he and the Waqt News team are being physically restrained in F-8," she alleged.
Another video recorded inside the office and tweeted by Geo News journalist Azaz Syed shows Matiullah Jan conferring with three other men, including a police officer.
In the video, a man in a red shirt tells the others: "We don't know what happened, they called people [in] from outside... Madam tried to snatch the camera herself. His [Jan's] coat is torn, there is a wound on his hand, his face. The marks are visible."
"It’s been two hours, and Matiullah Jan and the Waqt News team are still being restrained at Ms Kashmala Tariq’s office. We had asked them to leave and report back to the office. But they are not being allowed to leave," she claimed.
"Ironic that the federal ombudsperson against harassment of women at workplaces ordered her staff to physically hit and restrain the Waqt News team from leaving her office after an interview. Matiullah Jan's coat is torn, he has been hit. She ordered it," Nizami alleged.
"This is treatment journalists get if someone in a position of power doesn’t like your questions. Even if like Ms Kashmala Tariq they are appointed on a human rights platform," she said.
Tariq, a former MNA who sat in the assembly for 10 years, was sworn into office as the ombudsperson in February this year.
According to a notification issued regarding her appointment, she initiated legislation pertaining to the Hudood Ordinance, honour killings, the National Commission for Human Rights, and the Women's Empowerment Bill.
When DawnNewsTV reached out to Tariq for her comment, she replied: "No one is ready to present their point of view on this incident."
With additional reporting by Shakeel Qarar in Islamabad.