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Police in Pakistani Kashmir harass television station employees to force withdrawal of news story

(PPF/IFEX) - Police in the city of Mirpur, the commercial centre of Pakistani administrated Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), harassed the staff of the bureau of Aapna Des, a Bradford-based, Pahari-language television channel. The police wanted the channel to stop showing news reports regarding the withdrawal of official facilities provided by the government to an AJK Supreme Court judge, Justice Manzoor Hussain Gilani.

According to Asher Mahmood, administrative manager of Aapna Des, news about the withdrawal of facilities had already been published in local newspapers.

On 24 April 2007, a team from the local police station visited the offices of Aapna Des and demanded that the channel stop transmission of the news reports immediately. The staff declined.

Later the same day, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Khalid Mehmood Chohaan called Mahmood and demanded immediate withdrawal of the news items. Mahmood tried to explain that police should follow the legal process and if the news was incorrect, Justice Gilani should counter it. The SSP was infuriated at this response and ordered Mahmood to provide police a copy of Aapna Des's official broadcasting licence.

On 25 April, the registrar of Supreme Court denied that Justice Gilani had made any statement regarding the withdrawal of the official facilities.

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