Protesters vandalise Geo and Jang head office in Karachi, manhandle staff

Published February 21, 2021
A broken walk-through gate is seen lying on the floor. — DawnNewsTV
A broken walk-through gate is seen lying on the floor. — DawnNewsTV

A group of protesters angry over remarks made in a comedy television programme vandalised the head offices of Geo News and Jang Group on Sunday and also allegedly manhandled the staff present there.

Dozens of protesters tore down a walk-through gate and broke through a main gate of the office located on I.I. Chundrigar road, Geo News reported.

TV footage showed shattered glass lying on the floor near the reception area of the building.

The channel also broadcast a clarification of Irshad Bhatti, who hosts the programme 'Khabarnaak', in which he said he did not mean to disrespect the province of Sindh or Sindhi language in his show.

"Strongly condemn attack on offices of Geo and Jang. The[y] vandalised the reception area and beat our cameraman and staff. Where is the government??" asked Geo News Managing Director Azhar Abbas in a tweet.

A journalist affiliated with the media group, Zebunnisa Burki, said police had "looked on" as the protesters attacked the Geo/Jang offices.

Talking to Geo News, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah condemned the violence and promised an investigation into the incident.

MQM leader Faisal Subzwari termed the attack "highly reprehensible", asking what the Sindh Police and authorities were doing when "attackers led by [a] known blackmailer travelled several kilometres in Red Zone".

According to Geo News Karachi bureau chief, Faheem Siddiqui, the protestors broke through the main gate and once inside, broke windows and beat up staff present in the building.

Siddiqui said that the issue they were protesting about was a misunderstanding, adding that whatever Geo News analyst Irshad Bhatti had said on the show Khabarnaak was different to what was later reported and shared via social media.

Siddiqui further added that Bhatti had later apologised for his statements and had also issued a clarification in another programme.

“Today’s protest was announced [earlier] and had a schedule but the police and administration took no notice and provided no security so can it be understood that the protestors had their support?” he questioned.

“We demand legal action against [the protesters] who broke [the gates] and entered [the premises].”

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and spoke to Geo News CEO Azhar Abbas on the phone, saying he (Murad) had sought a detailed report about the incident from the police.

“We will take action against whoever is involved in the incident,” vowed the provincial chief executive. He added that “we have struggled for media freedom our whole life.”

“The PPP will not allow anyone to suppress the voice of media,” the chief minister declared.

Karachi Police Chief AIG Ghulam Nabi Memon told Dawn that “this is an unfortunate incident" and that the police "will lodge an FIR and arrest the accused responsible for this attack.”

AIG Memon added that “besides, we will also conduct an inquiry and take action against those police officers who are responsible for the failure to preempt the incident.”

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