Police, officials lock Quetta Press Club to stop Baloch Yakjehti Committee seminar

Published May 19, 2024
POLICE and other officials stand at the gate of Quetta Press Club.—PPI
POLICE and other officials stand at the gate of Quetta Press Club.—PPI

QUETTA: The police and local administration locked the gates of Quetta Press Club on Saturday to stop the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) members from holding a seminar.

The BYC members laid siege to the press club for hours and entered the building after breaking the locks. They held their seminar in Hall 1 of the press club, which was booked for the seminar.

The press club administration claimed that an assistant commissioner had asked the staff not to allow the seminar and locked the hall and the main gate.

As BYC held the seminar, presided over by BYC leader Dr Mahrang Baloch, a heavy contingent of police headed by SSP Operation and Quetta DIG cordoned off the press club building and the adjacent Quetta Metro­politan Corporation (QMC) office.

Activists break barriers to hold gathering; journalists’ bodies condemn police action

The QMC security staff was also asked not to allow any vehicle to park inside the premises.

The police cordon continued till late afternoon, when BYC activists concluded the seminar. However, no arrests were made when BYC leaders left the press club building.

Earlier, Quetta Press Club President Abdul Khaliq Rind, General Secretary Banaras Khan, Balochistan Union of Journalists President Khalil Ahmed and other media persons reached the press club and held a meeting to discuss the action of police and local administration.

Condemnation

Local and national journalists’ unions condemned the action and called it an attack on free media.

In a statement, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Arshad Ansari said press clubs were “neutral areas” “for raising voices for those who are victims of state highhandedness”.

The PFUJ leaders called for immediate restoration of activities at the press clubs, saying that Article 19 of the Constitution protects the right of free speech and expression of every citizen.

“The country is facing the worst kind of media gagging and denial of freedom of expression, and Balochistan is specifically being targeted,” the PFUJ leader said.

The Balochistan Union of Journalists condemned the actions and sought an investigation into what they called “an attack on the freedom of press” and an open violation of Article 19.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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