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Protest against attack on press club

HYDERABAD, Sept 23: A demonstration was held by journalists of Hyderabad outside the local press club on Sunday in protest against the Friday attack on the club and its several members.

They strongly condemned the attack during public rallies held to mark the Love for the Prophet Day.

Club President Hameedur Rehman, senior journalists Ali Hassan, Lala Rehman, Usman Ajmeri and Abdul Hafeez Abid, and photo-journalists participated in the demonstration.

They called for the arrest of all miscreants involved in the attack.

On Friday, a mob attacked the club and some of the attackers climbed over its walls, torched two motorbikes, ransacked the furniture and fixtures and beat up several journalists.

The intruders were apparently furious over not being given adequate coverage by the media. They beat up some journalists and forced them and other media personnel to take refuge on the upper storey.

Abdul Kareem, a club staffer present there, said: “A man with masked face climbed over the club’s walls and unlocked the main gate, closed for security reasons. Some other people entered the club through the gate and beat me severely as I was at the reception. We couldn’t do anything as they were too angry.”

The protesters encamped themselves outside the club building and kept throwing stones and bricks as their number swelled.

The siege continued for around three hours. The protesters did not disperse even after the arrival of a contingent of police. In the meantime, activists of Sunni Tehrik (ST), present at their camp in front of the nearby Radio Pakistan building came and rescued the people trapped in the building.

“We have (video) clips of those who climbed over the walls and we can identify them though we don’t know about their affiliation,” said Hameedur Rehman. He said he called the deputy commissioner and SSP of Hyderabad but they arrived late and also failed to calm down or disperse the protesters.

A strong contingent of police led by Cantonment SHO Abdul Razzak and District Intelligence Bureau (DIB) chief Imran Rasheed finally took action against the protesters. After a baton-charge, heavy teargas shelling and firing into the air, they dispersed.

The Rangers deployed only a few metres away from the scene did not respond despite repeated requests by the club staff. But they intervened only after police had to use live ammunition to control the situation. The retreating protesters ransacked a wine shop off Risala Road.

DC Agha Shahnawaz, Hyderabad SSP and a Rangers officer were informed that journalists and club were under serious threat and requested to set up a joint picket outside the building.

One of the two motorbikes torched on the club premises belonged to Abdul Qadir, a reporter of Daily Amn, and the other to Adnan Zai, a cameraman of Dharti TV.