Journalists’ boycott mars PA proceedings

Punjab Assembly
Journalists’ boycott mars PA proceedings

LAHORE: Proceedings of the Punjab Assembly were marred on Monday after the boycott of journalists, mainly due to the manhandling of media persons by PTI activists during their sit-in protest on alleged rigging in by-elections.

The speaker adjourned the session till Tuesday (today).Earlier during the session, the house also adopted a privilege motion and an adjournment motion from the opposition wherein the opposition members strongly criticized the role of police as well as the government towards the freedom of expression.The privilege motion was moved by the opposition member Dr Nosheen Hamid who is also one of the penal of chairman of the PA and was arrested during the protest on August 24.

She said in her privileged motion that on August 24, PTI workers were holding protest against the poll-rigging in PP-150 during by-elections but police resorted to baton charge and arrested all of them.Dr Nosheen said she was part of that protest and a police cop dragged her to van and then took to police station. She said that during the course of torture and arrest, she repeatedly told the cops that she was member of Punjab Assembly but they did not pay heed and misbehaved with her.

The Speaker with the consent of the Law Minister Rana Sanaullah sent the motion to the Punjab Assembly’s Committee-II for further procedure as per request of the mover to inquire the incident properly.Later, the adjournment motion was moved by the PTI backed opposition leader in the house Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed and his other colleagues including Dr Murad Ras, Mian Aslam Iqbal and Sadia Sohail Rana in which the house attention was drawn towards the incident of August 24. Police had stormed into the hunger strike camp set up by PTI against rigging during by-polls in PP-150 and uprooted the camp by force.

The opposition leader read out the adjournment motion and said that the police not only destroyed the protest camp but also arrested around 60 PTI workers and leaders including himself, PTI’s MPA Dr Noshin Hamid, Provincial President of PTI Ijaz Ch, worker Andleeb Abbass.The motion further said that police besides storming into the camp, resorted severe baton charge on protesters.In the motion he mentioned that police brutally tortured PTI workers at Hunger strike camp during the incident. Meanwhile, Mian Mahmood Ur Rashid reached the spot and asked police officers that peaceful protest was the right of every citizen and they must release their workers.

Rasheed, in the motion, asked that government had started using illegal tactics to snub the democratic protest of PTI workers and owing to arrests and torture on peaceful PTI workers, there was unrest among masses. The movers asked the speaker to declare the motion as per assembly rules and allow a debate on it in the house.The speaker did not agree with his request and also linked it with the privileged motion.Meanwhile, the press gallery was informed that the PTI workers who were also holding protest in front of the Punjab Assembly building at the Mall Road had brutally tortured the media men who were covering their protest so the press gallery boycotted the PA proceedings.

At that time, the PTI was aggressively highlighting the issue of police torture and chanting slogans in the house. The speaker sent a four members committee including two treasury members Abdur Razaq Dhilloon, and chaudhry Shafiq and two opposition members DR Waseem Akhtar and Dr Murad Rass to negotiate with the press.The negotiation committee member Ch Shafiq told the house that media was just demanding an action against culprits who are involved in the torture on media persons but didn’t agree to cover the assembly proceeding today. On this occasion, Dr Murad Rass said it was not yet clear that either the persons who have tortured on the media men belong to PTI or inducted from the government in his party.

Journalists were bent-on their decision of boycott that prompted the speaker to adjourn the session in almost after an hour at 10am.After adjournment of the session, the journalists held protest demonstration in front of the Punjab Assembly building and demanded the government to arrest the men who were involved in torture of private TV cameramen. The journalists also held a protest at the Lahore Press Club. – DailyTimes