Seeking Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman release: Groups’ workers to initiate hunger strike camps in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi

KARACHI: The Jang-Geo joint action committee on Thursday decided to ramp up struggle against the unlawful and unjust detention of group’s Editor In Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and to seek his release by holding hunger strike camps in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi.

Presiding over a meeting at the union office, President of The News union Saeed Mohiuddin Pasha expressed its serious concerns over the continued unlawful and unjust detention of group’s Editor In Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman by NAB and said this will further impact his ill health. The meeting decided to ramp up struggle for the release of Jang-Geo group’s Editor In Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. It was decided to start hunger strike camps from Friday (today). In view of the Sindh government’s decision to enforce province-wide lock down, it was decided that in Karachi the camp would be set up outside the Jang building at the I I Chundrigar Road. The same would happen in Lahore and Rawalpindi which would be participated by Jang-Geo-The News group’s media workers, members of Javed press and other staff members.

In Peshawar, the media workers of the Jang, Geo and The News continued the protest camp against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The senior leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) Ghulam Ahmad Bilour visited the camp and condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who, he said, was arrested for pursuing truthful journalism.

He deplored that the owner of the biggest media group had been arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a private property case which was 34-year-sold. The ANP leader said the government wanted to suppress voice of the independent press and opposition. Extending the solidarity to the media workers, he said hundreds of them are serving in this biggest media group but the government has withheld billions of rupees of the group. He demanded the immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of false cases against him.

The Peshawar Press Club President Syed Bukhar Shah said Mir Shakil was being punished for publishing truth but the rulers would not be able to pressurise him and other journalists. He demanded the immediate release of the Jang Group editor-in-chief and the release of the arrears, which is badly affected their workers. Senior Vice-President of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Shamim Shahid, condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil and asked the government to release him forthwith. He said Mir Shakil and the media workers were being punished by the government but they would not succeed in their mission.

Former President of Khyber Union of Journalists Arshad Aziz Malik in his speech lamented the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman but added that such pressure tactics by the government would not succeed. The PML-N Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb while strongly condemning the continued imprisonment of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman has said that he is a victim of Imran Khan’s petty, arrogant and dictatorial mentality.

In a statement Marriyum said that Imran Khan, in his vengeance, is using all in his power to conjure up a false case against Mir Shakeel, based purely on prejudice and victimization. She said Imran wants to permanently silence the opposition, the media and all others who speak the truth. She said Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman’s arrest is a violation of fundamental Human Rights and all corresponding laws.

In Lahore, hunger strike against the illegal and unjust arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued for the second day here. Arshad Ansari, president of Lahore Press Club, Muhammad Farooq, general secretary of Jang Workers Union, Shaheen Qureshi, Raees Ansari, Pervaiz Bashir, Maqsood Butt, Khizar Hayat Gondal, Zahid Ali Khan and others participated in the strike. The speakers termed the National Accountability Bureau’s vindictive action against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, tantamount to suppressing the independent media and stressed that now is the time to collectively raise voice against this injustice.

They said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was put behind the bars at the complaint verification stage in a 34-year-old case. They demanded the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

They also demanded that PM Imran Khan release arrears of six billion rupees of media groups. Imran should not suppress the freedom of media, rather enhance the performance of his government. He cannot get desired results by suppressing the media, they said.

In Rawalpindi, the general body meeting of the daily Jang and Press Workers Union CBA was president by its president Nasir Chisti. Criticising the detenion of Mir Shakilur Rahman, they demanded his early release. Gen Secretary Khalid Mahmood Bhatti criticised government’s move to arrest MSR as move to humble the Group’s independent editorial policy. A unanimous passed resolution demanded early release of Mir Shakilur Rahman. It was also resolved to continue with the protests. The meeting was aslo addressed by Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman, Laiq Shaukat, Aslam Butt, Athar Taqi, Imran Butt who strongly criticised Rahman’s continued detention, saying the tradition of upholding the truth would not be compromised.

Meanwhile, Independent MPA of Punjab Assembly Jugno Mohsin while strongly criticising NAB’s remands of Mir Shakilur Rahman in a 34-year-old private civil case reflects government’s vicitmisation of independent media. She said Rahman’s perseuction is a bringing a bad name to the country, where international human rights, media and journalist organisations are questioning the PTI government’s policies.

She said the Mir family is the standard bearer of independent journalism. Mohsin said when her husband Najm Sethi was arrested by the government for his independent editorial policies, MSR stood by her side. She said MSR without any invitation joined my struggle to defend and seek release of Sethi as part of his commitment to freedom of media. She said she had to repeatedly appear before the high and supreme courts and during that period I was fully backed by my brother Mir Shaiklur Rahman and the late senior columnist Ardeshir Cowasjee.

She termed MSR’s arrest, continued remands as unjust and travesty of justice. Mohsin said efforts are being made to file more trumped up charges against him, who is totally innocent. He will be eventually released but definitely that will bring the country in bad light over government’s policy to muzzle the press, she added.

Newspaper: The News