MULTAN: A veteran Lodhran journalist has been gunned down ostensibly for supporting a couple who married for love.
36-year-old Ajmal Joyia—who had worked for several national newspapers over the past 12 years—was travelling with a friend Ali Hassan on a motorcycle in Kehror Pucca when they were attacked by five armed men on three motorcycles. Joyia received six bullets while Hassan was shot twice.
A police team arrived at the spot after being tipped-off by locals. Saddar SHO Ansar Ali had the two taken to the Kehror Pucca DHQ Hospital where Joyia succumbed to his injuries. The body of the slain journalist was handed over to his family following the completion of formalities.
An FIR of the incident was registered on the complaint of Joyia’s father Nazar Muhammad against Iqbal Sial, Riaz Sial, Abbas Sial and two other unidentified assailants in accordance with eyewitness accounts of the episode.
Preliminary investigations have revealed that Joyia had been threatened with dire consequences by the men earlier. One Sughra Bibi—a sister of the Sial brothers—had gotten married to Shahzad against their wishes and left her paternal home. The veteran journalist had reportedly extended his support to the beleaguered couple. He was said to have raised the issue in the press and approached district authorities to provide them with adequate security.
Lodhran DPO Saad Sarfaraz has been personally overseeing the probe into the journalist’s killing.
Three special police teams have been constituted on his orders to nab those suspected of executing the attack. Of them, Abbas Sial was nabbed in a raid, according to police. The DPO has assured journalists that the remaining suspects would be nabbed soon and brought to justice.
Earlier, journalists had staged massive protests in Multan, Vehari and Lodhran against Joyia’s killing. Press Clubs’ Association South Punjab president Shakeel Anjum—the driving force behind the protest demonstration in Multan—demanded the suspects to be immediately arrested. He also called on Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to extend financial aid to the family of the deceased journalist.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2016.