Journalist briefly detained for interrogation

QUETTA: A local journalist and Vice President of the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ), Muhammad Afzal Mughal, was picked up by a law enforcement agency late on Monday night. However, he was released on Tuesday afternoon.

A group of armed men knocked at the gate of the journalist’s house at around 2:30am and took him away saying they wanted to interrogate him.

Giving details of the incident, Mr Mughal said that the doorbell started ringing repeatedly. When he opened the window to know who was outside, he was asked by seven to eight people to come out of his house.

“When I opened the door, they asked me to tell my name and show my identity card and hand them over my cellphone,” he said.

“I gave them my identity card and told them that my mobile phone is in the room. Then they entered my home and took my mobile phone, checked it thro­ugh an equipment and asked me to follow them,” he said.

“After blindfolding me, they took me to an office of a law enforcement agency and I was asked to take rest in a room till the morning.”

He said that during the journey they also picked up another person from another place.

“Their attitude was polite and civilised and when one of them asked to handcuff me, others said there was no need for handcuffing me,” he said.

He said that in the morning, people of a law-enforcement agency asked him questions about his house and his identity.

“They read out some names and asked whether I have any acquaintance with them. I told them that I have no acquaintance with these people.

“I told the interrogators that I work as a staff reporter in daily Mashriq and a private news agency. They could get any information about me from my offices.

“The officials took my thumb and finger impressions and different persons came in the room and asked me different questions.

“Later, the officials told me that they brought him to their office due to some misunderstanding and that they had got all information about him,” he said.

The journalist further said that they arranged a phone call with “my wife. Later I was dropped near my house in Shehbaz Town”.

Reacting to the incident, the BUJ brought out a procession, which marched through different roads of the city.

A large number of journalists and representatives of civil society took part in a rally at the Quetta Press Club premises and raised slogans, demanding security and protection to journalists.

Speaking on the occasion, BUJ President Hamadullah Baloch condemned the incident and the ordeal which Mr Mughal was put through.

He said that if any law-enforcement agency had any complaint against any journalist or they want to question any journalist, it could call the journalist concerned through the Quetta Press Club or the BUJ instead of picking him/her up from his/her house late in the night.