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Police illegally detain journalists in Naushehro Feroze

(PPF/IFEX) - Ghulam Mustafa Tagar, a reporter for Geo News TV channel and English daily "The News" in Karachi, and Zafar Tagar, a reporter for the Sindhi-language channel Awaz TV, were detained and manhandled by the police in the town of Naushehro Feroze when they went to cover the arrest of three dacoits (armed robbers) in the police station on April 23, 2010.

Mustafa told PPF that he and his colleague reporter Zafar reached the police station on the morning of April 22 after receiving news of the arrest of three dacoits. When both journalists entered the police station, the station house officer (SHO) Wazir Ali Rajar stopped them. Mustafa told him that they had come to cover the arrest of three dacoits. In response, Rajar lost his temper and ordered constables to arrest the journalists. Mustafa said five policemen pounced upon them, using abusive language and forcibly pushed them into the lock-up.

Mustafa further said that he made a phone call to Syed Shahid, bureau Chief of Geo News in Sukkur, who broke the news on the station and also informed higher authorities about police highhandedness. Shahid then rushed to the police station with a large number of protesters, including activists of political parties and press reporters. Supervisory police officer (SPO) city Aijaz Memon and Superintendent of Police (SP) Investigation Aslam Langah also came to the police station and ordered the release of both journalists. Mustafa said they were detained for more than one hour.

Mustafa told PPF they believed they were targeted because of their reporting of police atrocities, including the recent harassment of female artist Fozia Praveen of Hyderabad during a raid on a wedding ceremony in Ayaz Colony.

Naushehro Feroze Press Club President Zahid Rajpar told PPF that SPO Memon has suspend SHO Rajar, Constable Owais Lashari and Head Constable Qurban Kalhoro. SPO Memon also set up an inquiry committee to investigate the incident.

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