PESHAWAR: The local police have announced they will take action against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s workers, who manhandled media persons here on Wednesday night during the first public meeting of their leader, Imran Khan, after the recent ouster as the prime minister through a no-trust vote.

In statement issued here, Capital City Police Officer Ijaz Khan said he had taken notice of the incident and the police were working to identify attackers.

“Coercion against media personnel is not acceptable at all,” he said.

The CCPO said that the police would ensure the protection of journalists, while those attacking them would be dealt with an iron hand.

The journalists working for various media organisations were harassed and manhandled during the PTI’s public meeting on Wednesday night.

Peshawar Press Club general secretary Shahzada Fahad, who covered the event, told reporters that the organisers had placed just one container for journalists to cover the public meeting.

“In the first place, the container was too ‘narrow’ to place TV cameras and operate them,” he said.

Mr Fahad said almost an hour before the PTI chief delivered the speech, 60-70 young men climbed the container and when the reporters and cameramen present there tried to turn them away, the latter beat them up.

The press club leader said that a large number of youth, who were on the ground, pelted journalists with stones causing minor injuries to at least seven reporters and cameramen.

He said that a cameraman got his camera damaged due to the stone pelting, while the other cameraman, who had fainted in the melee, also lost his laptop.

Mr Fahad criticised both event organisers and police over ‘failure to rescue media personnel attacked by the PTI workers’.

“I pleaded with event managers as well as the policemen deployed there to protect us [media persons] from attackers, but no one come to our help,” he said.

In a statement issued here, Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) president Nasir Hussain condemned the attack of PTI workers on media personnel in Wednesday’s public meeting.

He demanded the relevant officials to take notice of the attack on media personnel.

Mr Hussain said the KhUJ would announce its line of action in the next 24 hours if the PTI failed to take action against its workers involved in the attack.

Also, the Khyber Photojournalists Association announced the boycott of all PTI gatherings to protest the attack on medical persons during the rally.

In a statement, the association said the cameras of its president, Fayyaz Aziz, was damaged in the melee; Mohammad Sajjad lost his laptop, and video-journalist Haji Maqsood’s motorcycle was damaged by the PTI workers.

It demanded an immediate action against attackers and payment of compensation to media persons for the damaged equipment.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2022

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