Islamabad: Journalists were beaten up and the Karachi Press Club attacked during Sunday’s protest staged for release of Sunni clerics and leaders booked on various charges, and for recognising Mumtaz Qadri as a martyr, a media report said.
The attackers were agitated over not being given media coverage as the Anjuman Talba-i-Islam (ATI), the student wing of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan-Noorani, on Sunday staged a demonstration on the eve of the Chehlum (a religious observation) for Mumtaz Qadri, the convicted killer of then Punjab governor Salman Taseer.
Witnesses and police said dozens of charged ATI workers arrived at the Karachi Press Club around 5.40 p.m. on Sunday. They shouted slogans in favour of Mumtaz Qadri and wore helmets to conceal their identities, Dawn online reported.
Witnesses said the protestors had a heated argument with cameramen for a lack of coverage of their protest. As they were engaged in the argument, the protestors started smashing the windowpanes of a parked vehicle of a private news channel, and set it on fire.
Sohail Burfat, a cameraman working with the Jaag TV, said some six to seven protestors wearing helmets approached and asked him as to why the journalists were not covering their protest while they had covered Holi the other day.
“They started hitting me with sticks and sprinkled some chemical on our vehicle and set it on fire,” he added. “They also took away three cameras.”
Witnesses said the protestors tried to enter the Press Club and attacked watchman Furqan. However, despite being beaten up, he managed to lock the main gate of the Press Club.
Furqan said that no police contingent was deployed outside the Press Club for security, and after locking the main gate he ran for safety.
He said the protestors used abusive language against the Press Club and journalist community, pelted stones and resorted to firing into the air.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Saddar Kanwar Asif said police fired into air only three or four shots to prevent the situation from further worsening.
However, no arrest was made as the protestors managed to escape.