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Murder attempt made on Pakistan journalist over TV report of lynching

A group of youths hold a demonstration to condemn the killing of two brothers by a mob, August 22, 2010 in Sialkot, Pakistan. Men savagely assaulted the two teenager with sticks, drawing blood before dragging and hanging their bodies from a nearby pole. None of the dozens of people watching tried to stop the attack.Photo: Associated Press / Daylife

An attempt has been made on the life of Dunya TV reporter Hafiz Muhammad Imran Shehzad in Sialkot, in the northeastern Pakistan province of Punjab. This followed his coverage of the lynching of two brothers in the presence of police officers in Sialkot, which shocked Pakistani public opinion.

Aged 27, Imran has been hospitalised with the injuries he received when he was attacked and badly beaten outside his Sialkot home on 29 August by two men who arrived on a motorcycle, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) reported.

“I did an exclusive report showing the brutality reigning in Sialkot but now I am under threat from those who have been implicated in this case,” he told RSF. “My attackers have just done what they had been threatening to do for days (...) I call on all the organisations that fight for press freedom to protect me against the people who want to kill me because of my report.”

RSF urged the Pakistani government, especially federal interior ministry Rehman Malik, to react quickly and give Imran the necessary protection. The organisation also called on Pakistani TV station executives to discuss how they could protect their reporters, who are increasingly the target of violence.

Imran’s report on the lynching of two teenagers by a mob in Sialkot on August 15 included exclusive footage of the incident. The youths were accused of a theft, but Imran showed that the lynching was the result of dispute over a cricket match. The report of the incident, and especially the fact that the police looked on without taking any action, had such an impact that the supreme court has been forced to intervene. Seventeen people, including police officers, have been arrested on murder charges.

Speaking by telephone, Imran told RSF he suspected that local police officers were involved in the beating he received, which happened shortly after his report was shown at a supreme court hearing. Following the hearing, Imran was threatened by a man who had just alighted from a police car. Imran had managed to film him giving money to police officers in an attempt to influence their investigation.

Most cases of violence against journalists in recent months have involved the employees of privately-owned TV stations, whose influence is growing steadily. Imran Khan of Din News TV, Anwar Kamal of Geo News, Zafarullah Banori of Ary One, Ejazul Haq of City-42 TV, Azmat Ali Bangash of Samaa TV, Malik Arif of Samaa TV and Ashiq Ali Mangi of Mehran TV have all been the targets of violence.

Date posted: September 1, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 235