KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency’s cybercrime wing raided the head office of a TV channel here on Wednesday and arrested an anchorperson on charges of allegedly harassing and blackmailing his former colleague through social media.
Anchor Irshad Jagirani was taken into custody during the raid on Sindh TV head office, which drew criticism from the journalists community that suggested the institution deal with such complaints as an individual matter instead of raiding media houses.
Sources in the FIA said the KTN anchor Sahar Shah Rizvi had lodged a complaint at the cybercrime wing, stating that Jagirani was allegedly harassing and blackmailing her through social media. The complainant through her Facebook account also narrated that the suspect had been harassing and blackmailing her through separate IDs on the basis of ‘selfies’ taken on different occasions.
The officials obtained ‘evidence’ from the suspect’s cell phone, they said, adding that the held anchor ‘confessed’ to harassing the complainant who was said to be his former colleague in the same channel before switching jobs. He submitted a ‘written apology’ that was reportedly ‘accepted’ by the complainant, the sources said. However, an official of the FIA told Dawn on condition of anonymity that despite submission of a written apology, legal proceedings would be completed. The official said the FIA had no information that the complainant had ‘pardoned’ him after the ‘written apology’ though she had the right to pardon him.
Later, the suspect was released as the offence was non-cognizable, the official said, adding that no FIR had been registered against the anchor so far.
Sindh TV’s current affairs director Fayaz Naich told Dawn that they considered the FIA ‘raid’ on their head office as ‘violation of sanctity of the media house’. He said if the FIA had asked the channel management, they would have handed over his custody to them for investigation. He said they were with the complainant but viewed the raid as ‘part of continuation of attacks on media’ in the country.
In a statement, Karachi Union of Journalists president Ashraf Khan and general secretary Ahmed Khan Malik said the FIA raid on the media house and arrest of a media worker was aimed at ‘suppressing’ the freedom of expression. The KUJ believed that the media industry was already facing immense problems and at this time, such raid was equal to silencing the media.
“If there was any charge against any individual, institutions should deal it as an individual matter instead of raiding the media houses and harassing the workers,” the KUJ stated. They opined that such raid not only undermined the image of the media houses but also caused mental agony to workers.
Meanwhile, reporters covering proceedings of the Sindh Assembly session boycotted it for some time against the FIA’s raid on the media house. A senior official of the FIA who wished not to be named told Dawn that there was no direction from the higher authorities to the cybercrime team to arrest the anchor from the head office of the TV channel. The official said they were asked to detain the suspect and obtain evidence from his cell phone.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019