Journalists arrested in Gilgit when a news story irked the Law Minister
Gilgit—Secretary Law of Gilgit-Baltistan has registered an FIR against two senior journalists of Gilgit-Baltistan for publishing a news item that made him uncomfortable. Abdul Rehman Bukhari, a prolific writer and Bureau Chief of Daily Baad-e-Shumaal and Nazir Naji, the Resident Editor of Daily Bang-e-Sahar were picked by Gilgit police on their way to work place. The Journalists were returning from the budget meeting when the Police hauled them off into vehicles and took them to the city police station.
Mediapersons rushed to the police station to protest against the illegal charges levelled against them and demanded immediate release of the journalists. The journalist community termed the act a state-supervised attack on freedom of press. Late in the night, Sher Khan, the SHO released the journalists. Meanwhile, journalists in all parts of the region condemned the ill-intended action of the Law Minister.
In a protest against the Law Minister, journalists boycotted a function that held at governor house to administer the oath taking ceremony of Raja Azam for his appointment as Minister for Planning and Development. Journalists maintained that the news story that irked the law minister was a reality – the secretary had used foul language against the law minister.
Former President of High Court Bar, Mr. Ehsan Ali has termed the registration of case against journalists illegal and ill-intended. He has asked the journalists to take legal action in the court against the SHO and the Law Minister. “This is violation of human rights and an act of terrorism” Ehsan said.
President of Gilgit-Baltistan Union of Journalists, Tariq Hussain Shah has strongly condemned the incident and termed the registration of the case against two senior journalists and their arrest as a ‘broad daylight banditry into the freedom of speech and expression’. He said that arresting a journalist for reporting a news story is the worse example of terrorism. The secretary law did use a foul language against the Chief Minister and the Law Minister, that was of course a news for public. He demanded the Chief Minister of GB to rein in on such officials whose actions dent the image of the government here in Gilgit-Baltistan. Tariq Hussain told that the Journalists community would continue boycotting official functions until the law minister apologizes the journalists.
It is relevant to mention here that UNESCO has ranked Pakistan the second most dangerous country for journalists in the world. In Gilgit-Baltistan, where an order is a law and a dictation is a constituion, journalists are more likely to become volnerable when they unmask the truth.