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Pakistan: Media personnel beaten to prevent coverage of student protest

This statement was originally published on pakistanpressfoundation.org on 22 June 2017.

Seventeen media workers were assaulted and their equipment seized by the private guards of Agriculture University Faisalabad, while they tried to cover an incident involving expelled students, who were not being allowed to enter the varsity premises. The incident took place on June 20, 2916 in the city of Faisalabad, Punjab province, Pakistan.

Those who were assaulted and harassed included reporters Mudasir Nazeer and Yousuf Cheema, both reporters of Samaa TV channel, and Shehroz Ebad of Dunya TV. The cameramen who were manhandled included Rizwan Sabri of Samaa TV, Rana Munir of ARY TV, Muhammad Usman of Express TV, Muhammad Javed of Metro TV, Raheel Asghar of Aaj TV, Arsalan of AbbTakk TV, Waqas Shiraz of Neo TV, Zubair of Dunya TV, and Kashif, Dawn News. Digital Satellite News Gathering-DSNG staff Muhammad Umair, Aamir, Haider Ali, and Nadeem, a driver for Samaa DSNG, were among the assaulted and injured media personnel.

Nazeer told Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) that they had arrived at the univeristy to cover the incident involving the expelled students, who were not being allowed to enter the university. As the media started to record outside the varsity premises, the guards attacked them, punching them and kicking them.

According to the students, they had criticised the university administration on social media which resulted in their expulsion on June 11 and they were trying to submit an appeal against the decision.

"The Guards not only beat us but damaged our vans, cameras and other equipment with sticks, while some media professionals were thrown on the road and brutally beaten," added Nazeer.

The university's Public Relation Officer Dr. Jalal Arif said it was an unfortunate episode and that the university had formed a committee to probe into the incident; stern action will be taken if the guards were involved in violence against media personnel, he added.

Amir Sohail, General Secretary of the Punjab Union of Journalists, told PPF, "We condemn the act of violence and demand that Chief Minister Punjab take stern actions against the attackers and the varsity administration". He stated that the Faisalabad Police refused to register the case.

The President of the Faisalabad Union of Journalists (FUJ), Nadeem Javed demanded the government bring to justice those involved in the attack on the media. "Since yesterday night, the police has been asking journalists not to name the vice chancellor as the accused and were refusing to register the case," alleged Javed.

Journalists and media workers of Faisalabad held a protest demonstration fand have threatened of countrywide protests if the attackers are not arrested.

On June 11, the university administration reprimanded six students named Zubair Iqbal, Mohammad Asfandyar Jawaid, Ghulam Jillani, Umer Bilal, Mubashir Ali and Ahsan Safdar for posting comments on Facebook against the inefficiency of the university administration.

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