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Two journalists assaulted in Bahawalpur

(PPF/IFEX) - Journalist Muhammad Yaseen Ansari and photographer Khalid Sardar of the daily "Roznama Pakistan" were manhandled by a mob in the Bahawalpur district of Punjab province of Pakistan on Friday 15 July 2011.

Ansari, who is also a member of the Bahawalpur Union of Journalists (BUJ), told PPF that he and his photographer Sardar received calls on Friday 14 July 2011 informing them that some land grabbers were torturing women in order to grab their land, and the victims needed their help. They refused to go to the site, as it was very late in the night. The next day, they received call about the same issue again and when they reached the site, about 9 to 10 unidentified youths attacked them and beat them brutally. Both journalists incurred injuries to their faces, shoulders, and arms. The attackers snatched their cameras, cell phones, and wrist watches and shaved their moustaches and eyebrows. They also threatened them with dire consequences if they were to publish any scandalous story in newspaper, Ansari stated.

Ansari told PPF that he believes that the attack was due to his previous investigations and a news story published in his newspaper about corruption allegations surrounding the "Shadbad Cooperative Form", a project announced by Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, with a budget of Rs. 480 million (approx. US$10.8 million), under the "Choolistan Development Authority". Ali Raza Abbasi, Deputy Director of the "Choolistan Development Authority" and his assistant Iqbal Mushtaq are directly involved in the corruption, he alleged.

Ansari said that three days prior to the incident, Secretary of Live Stock and Dairy Development Hamid Yaqoob had visited the area to probe into the corruption matter and Ansari had met him and provided him with evidence on the case.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Bahawalpur Union of Journalists (BUJ) called an emergency meeting on Saturday 16 July 2011 and expressed deep concerns over the attack on the journalists. They announced that they would hold a protest rally on Monday 18 July 2011.

The area police have registered the case against unidentified assailants following the report by the victims.

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