ISLAMABAD - The staff members of Federal Ombudsperson on “protection against harassment of women at workplace”, Kashmala Tariq, on Thursday manhandled, punched and forcefully held the team of Waqt News’ show “Apna Apna Gareban” after she got annoyed over few of the questions during an interview.

She called her staff and directed them not to let the Waqt News team leave with footage of the interview which ensued manhandling of the journalist and his team. Her staff asked the channel team to hand over the footage of the interview the Ombudsman had given just before.

Matiullah Jan and his team were forcefully held at Kashmala Tariq’s office in sector F-8. Kashmala got infuriated over some questions and ordered her staff to detain the team and confiscate video. They were hit, punched by Kashmala’s staff and told they could not leave the office because Kashmala did not like questions. The staff forced the channel team to hand over the footage of the interview.

Soon after the incident, Managing Director Nawa-i-Waqt Group of Publications Rameeza Majid Nizami took to Twitter to announce the detention and assault on the Waqt News team.

Giving details of the incident, she said that Kashmala Tariq had given time to Matiullah Jan for an interview. Whole of the interview was recorded. When the Waqt News team was getting up to leave, Kashmala summoned her staff and told them not to let the Waqt News team leave with the footage. Another tweet by the MD said that Kashmala ordered her staff to take the team’s telephones, camera equipment, and footage of the interview. “He [Matiullah Jan] was punched, his jacket was torn, and he and the Waqt News team were physically restrained in sector F-8,” she announced.

She further said that Matiullah Jan and Waqt News team were forced back into Kashmala’s office, as they tried to leave. The police seemed rather helpless, she added. “This is treatment journalists get if someone in a position of power doesn’t like your questions. Sad, that educated persons at important positions still resort to violence as a way to impose their will,” she added. She also said that it was not the first time that Kashmala Tariq was involved in such a controversy as a Dawn News report also shows such a behaviour on part of Kashmala Tariq.

Another footage grabbed by someone present on the occasion shows that way of Matiullah Jan was blocked by Kashmala’s staff so that he hands over the footage of the interview which the Ombudsman did not like due to the ‘annoying’ questions by the Waqt News journalist.

According to the Waqt News team, they were attacked and harassed on the orders of Ombudsman Kashmala Tariq and their equipment was also confiscated. They were illegally kept in detention for an hour.

Former legislator Kashmala Tariq had sworn in as the federal ombudsman just two weeks before. After taking oath, she was supposed to play her role in combating harassment at workplace but she, through her staff, opted to harass media persons. The incident took place on the occasion of Women International Day.

The journalist approached Margalla police for registration of an FIR against Kashmala Tariq and around 12 of her staff employees. The application submitted by Matiullah Jan with the police stated that he is associated with the Nawa-i-Waqt Group. “I was invited by Kashmala Tariq for interview on 8 March, 2018 at 11:30am. Kashmala Tariq gave detailed interview and at the end ordered her staff to snatch out equipment and video of the interview,” he told the police. He said that about 12 employees, on the orders of Kashmala Tariq, attacked the four-member TV crew and tried to snatch video forcibly. The employees of the Ombudsman caused the TV team injuries on body. The police arrived and even in their presence they were illegally detained and attacked repeatedly, the application read. According to the police, they have received the application and further proceedings were underway.

The journalists’ community has also condemned the incident as lack of tolerance. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and representatives of the National Press Club have condemned the incident as an attempt to mug media.