Television host and journalist Syed Iqrarul Hassan on Tuesday accused officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of detaining him and members of his team for hours at their Karachi office and subjecting them to extreme forms of torture after he attempted to expose alleged corruption within their ranks.
Hassan's ordeal came to light when pictures of him bloodied up, in torn-up clothes and receiving medical treatment on a hospital bed emerged on Twitter. Later, his fellow TV journalist Waseem Badami shared a video of him visiting Hassan at the hospital, by which time the injured journalist had been bandaged up, while his left arm was bound in a sling.
Speaking to ARY News, the channel he works for, Hassan said that he and his team members were "stripped naked, blindfolded and tortured for exposing the corruption of an IB inspector". He alleged that IB officials also shot videos of him after stripping him and his team members naked.
Hassan explained that an officer of IB was taking bribe at the gate of the agency's office and "we tried to report him to the high-ups, but senior IB officer Rizwan Shah manhandled the Sar-e-Aam team and kept beating us."
"We were treated as a mole working for a foreign country," he added.
Hassan claimed he and his team were held hostage for more than three hours. "I got almost 8-10 stitches on my head due to the torture".
He said a few members of his team were even given electric shocks to "sensitive" body parts. "I want to bring [to light] the video we shot at the IB office, but I learnt that it has been discarded by the agency officials".
As a result of the torture, Hassan said his shoulder had been dislocated and that he was undergoing medical treatment.
Hassan is known for his TV show Sar-e-Aam in which he often conducts sting operations in order to expose corruption and other societal flaws.
Following the incident, Deputy Director General IB Iftikhar Nabi Tunio issued a notification — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — suspending five officials "for mistreatment of ARY News team and mishandling the situation".
The suspended officers were Syed Mohiuddin Rizwan (Director, BPS-19), Mehmoob Ali (stenotypist), Inam Ali (stenotypist), Rajab Ali (sub-inspector) and Khawar.
Hassan responded to the development, saying: "I am thankful to the federal government for taking prompt action and suspending five officers involved in the incident."
Senior journalist Hamid Mir condemned the torture of Hassan, saying the incident reminded him of the days when journalists were brutally manhandled in Islamabad and Lahore.
"The current era is worse than the previous ones," he added.
PTI MNA and TV figure Aamir Liaquat Hussain also condemned the incident and called the alleged conduct of IB officials "immoral, reprehensible and shameful".
Writer Shama Junejo said one should not be treated the way Hassan and his team were as "journalism is not a crime."