BAHAWALNAGAR/SHEIKHUPURA-Hundreds of local journalists, flanked by political leaders and notables from across the district, staged a protest against the arrest and registration of fake cases against Nawa-i-Waqt reporter in Okara. They demanded the Punjab Chief Minster to take notice of the worst ‘power abuse’ and order immediate cancellation of the FIRs.

According to the journalists, senior journalist and Nawa-i-waqt reporter in district Okara, Hafiz Husnain Raza, has been victimised by the Okara police for “what they called” doing true journalism and upholding the professional ethos. They said that the Okara police, on the orders of DPO Rana Faisal, have implicated the mediaman in fake cases and unjustly arrested him without warrants. The news of the journalist’s arrest sparked protests across Punjab province and has exposed the police highhandedness and abuse of power.

The protest was staged with the support of Muttahida Sahafi Mahaz Bahawalnagar and a large number of journalists and politicial personalities of the town including senior PPP leader Abdul Qadir Shaheen, assembled at City Chowk Bahawalnagar to raise voice against the police highhandedness. In his speech, Abdul Qadir Shaheen said that the incident is against the democratic norms and the journalist should be released immediately. “All cases registered against Hafiz Husnain Raza should be withdrawn and the police must re-visit its approach about using power delegated by the state,” he demanded.

The protesting journalists also demanded immediate transfer of Okara DPO Rana Faisal, who they claimed, has ordered arrest of the reporter. The journalists threatened a countrywide protest if the police fail to release Mr Raza and withdraw all the cases registered against him.

In Sheikhupura, a large number of journalists protested against the Okara police for implicating the reporter of Nawa-i-waqt in false cases and putting him behind bar. The journalists gathered in front of local press club to condemn the Okara police action and termed it against the fundamental rights of freedom of press and rule of law. The speakers regretted that one side the government claims to be the custodian of fundamental rights, while on the other, lodging fabricated cases against journalists.

They regretted that reporter Hafiz Husnain Raza is being victimised for highlighting the Okara police batton charge on tenants after blocking main GT Road in favour of their demand. They demanded immediate release of Husnain Raza and withdrawal of fake cases against him, threatening the journalists would be constrained to launch a massive protest if their demands are not met.