Sign up for weekly updates

Camera operator detained and assaulted by police in Lahore

(PPF/IFEX) - Waheed Butt, 40, a cameraman for Geo News, a leading privately-owned news channel, was detained and assaulted by police as he was filming the arrest of a 12-year-old boy on 17 June 2011 in Lahore, the capital city of the Pakistani province of Punjab.

Butt, who is also president of the Lahore Cameramen's Association (LCA), told the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that he was on his way to his office when he saw four policemen arresting and beating the boy. When Butt asked why they were dragging the boy, the police officers told him to "stay out of (the) matter." Butt then followed the police vehicle on his motorbike and captured the scene using his mobile phone camera. When the police officers noticed him doing this, they stopped their vehicle. Station House Officer (SHO) Ahsan Elahi got out of the vehicle, snatched Butt's mobile phone and ordered his men to arrest the cameraman. This took place despite the fact that Butt told them he is cameraman for a famous media organization.

Butt said he handed his motorbike over to some people he knew who had arrived at the scene of the incident. The police personnel forcibly detained Butt and took him in their vehicle to the Johar town police station. At the police station he again showed his identification, but the officers started beating him. In the meantime, Butt made a call via another cell phone to his office to inform them about the arrest.

The cameraman said that when a media team reached the police station SHO Elahi fled the scene, while other police officers mistreated the journalists. Butt was released after an hour in detention, during which time police officers tore his shirt and slapped him in the face. He had bruises on his chest from being dragged by the officers. After determining that the video clip that Butt had taken of the 12-year-old boy's arrest had not been shot successfully, the police returned his mobile phone to him.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took note of the incident and ordered the arrest of the police officers involved.

Journalists also staged a demonstration in front of the Lahore Press Club (LPC), condemning the attack on the cameraman. The journalists boycotted a press conference held by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Ali Amir Malik and demanded immediate action against the accused police officers.

Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Malik Ahmad Raza Tahir issued an order to suspend SHO Elahi and the other police officers involved in the incident.

Latest Tweet:

On the eve of the anniversary of Ján Kuciak's murder, there are concerns over political interference in the investi…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.