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Police assault reporter in Lahore

(PPF/IFEX) - Muhammad Akram, a Lahore-based senior reporter for the English-language newspaper "Daily Times", was assaulted by police in Lahore, the capital of the province of Punjab, while filming a protest on July 4, 2010.

The reporter had parked his car near the Lahore press club to film a rally protesting a terrorist attack on Data Darbar, a shrine in Lahore. A police officer rudely asked Akram to move his car. Akram introduced himself as a journalist and explained that he was covering the rally. But the police officer, Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Wajid, lost his temper and started abusing the reporter. When Akram protested, police officers manhandled him and shouted, "This man is supporting the explosions at Data Darbar. Burn his vehicle!"

Shahnawaz Khan, another special correspondent for the "Daily Times", told PPF that he saw police kick and punch Akram. He received injuries and bruises to his face and body. When other journalists and spectators gathered to protect Akram, the policemen fled.

Amir Sohail, finance secretary of the Punjab Union of Journalist (PUJ), told PPF that Akram was rushed to the press club, where a doctor administered first aid. He was then transferred to hospital. His condition was stable and he was discharged later that night. Reporters subsequently informed Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Multan Khan and other senior police officials about the incident. Khan suspended the police official concerned and ordered a departmental inquiry against him.

PUJ has strongly condemned the police heavy-handedness and announced that a meeting was planned with Punjab government officials for the evening of 5 July. Sohail said they would decide how to respond to the incident after the meeting.

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