HYDERABAD: A landlord in Dadu who beat up four journalists nearly 10 days ago continues to evade justice allegedly due to his political connections in Sindh government.
Neither has an FIR been lodged against him nor have any suspects been arrested even though high-ranking police officials continue to assure journalists' representatives that their complaints are genuine and that action will be taken.
Four reporters - Ghulam Rasool Thaeem, Pir Bux Babbur, Aalam Thaeem and Dilar Mallah - were allegedly beaten up by Ahmed Khan Laghari and his men in Haji Khan village. These Johi taluka-based reporters had gone to cover a banned tree cutting by Laghari's men.
"They warned us against covering their exercise and they beat us up because we didn't obey," claimed Thaeem. "They tore our clothes and moved us around the area."
The incident has infuriated journalists in the entire district. A few days ago, Dadu Press Club, the largest in the district, hosted a meeting of the representatives of all the 13 press clubs, based in talukas and small rural towns. According to the club's president Walidad Chandio, all the participants were in unison that legal action should be taken against the landlord.
"We want the police to register the FIR and arrest the suspects," Chandio told The Express Tribune.
According to him, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Sanjeela Laghari visited Dadu Press Club twice and requested them to compromise. The MPA also went to Johi Press Club while PPP MNA Rafique Jamali also continued to approach the media men.
Under pressure of the journalists' protests, home minister Anwar Siyal formed an inquiry committee comprising Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch and Jamshoro SSP Tariq Willayat. The two officers went to Dadu a few days ago and recorded the statements of the beaten journalists, Laghari's brothers and the local residents.
Maqbool Laghari, a brother of the landlord, admitted to have beaten up the journalists before the committee. But he claimed that the journalists were part of a rival group in the village with whom they clashed because of a vendetta, which has continued for a long time.
"Our findings show that the reporters were beaten up without their fault," an SSP told The Express Tribune on Monday. He requested anonymity because the report has yet to be submitted to the provincial government.
Meanwhile, Dadu police lodged an FIR after the incident but it was registered on behalf of the rival group of Lagharis and on the basis of the clash. The SSP said their report supports the registration of a separate FIR by the journalists.
On July 15, all the press clubs of Dadu will stage a joint protest sit-in outside the SSP's office in Dadu district. Two of the assaulted journalists have warned that they will set themselves ablaze if the police did not file the case and arrest the suspects.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.