LAHORE, Pakistan – Pakistan police assaulted and detained journalist Jahangir Hayat, including his family, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJs) on Tuesday, leaving the media practitioner with rib injuries.
The committee urged Pakistan authorities to conduct a “swift and impartial investigation” into the case, holding perpetrators accountable for such a violence against media practitioners and their families.
Hayat told CPJ that he believes the assault and detention were acts of retaliation for his work as a journalist, including his reporting on crime and alleged police malfeasance, as CPJs reported.
“Punjab police officers’ assault and detention of Jahangir Hayat, as well as their detention and harassment of his family, underscores the significant dangers that Pakistani journalists face for simply doing their jobs,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna.
“Authorities must conduct an immediate and impartial investigation into this incident, hold the perpetrators accountable, and demonstrate that such attacks will not continue with impunity.”
On May 1, police officers in the Icchra area of Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, assaulted and detained Hayat, a chief reporter for the privately owned daily newspaper Daily Business, according to a report by his outlet, video of the incident shared on social media, and the journalist, who spoke with CPJ by phone.
The report also added that local police detained Hayat’s wife and a seven-year-old daughter, keeping them in custody for about 45 minutes.
What Led Journalist Jahangir Hayat to Detention?
Hayat and his family were walking to their motorcycle when the journalist noticed that speedometer of his motorcycle had broken; he approached a police van nearby for help because he thought it had been vandalized, he said, as CPJ reported.
Hayat told CPJ that he showed the officers his press card as a form of identification, and the officers then recognized him, cursed at him, and one officer, whom Hayat identified as the station house officer of the Icchra Police Station, said he would “get rid of his journalism.”
Soon after, Icchra Police Deputy Superintendent Zakaria Yusuf ordered the officers to detain the journalist, as Hayat told CPJ, adding the officers hit him with their pistols and violently threw him into the police vehicle.
Meanwhile, the officer escorted his wife and daughter into the vehicle, holding them for about 45 minutes before brining them to the Icchra Police Station.
Hayat and his family were released without any charges after a group of journalists gathered at the station’s gate, according to the report. Hayat sustained injuries to his ribs and neck from the physical assault, leaving his daughter with a traumatizing experience.
On May 9, Hayat registered complaints with the offices of Lahore Capital City Police Officer Bilal Kamyana, Senior Superintendent of the Lahore Police Operations Mustansar Feroze, and Inspector-General of the Punjab Police Sardar Ali Khan, as the report stated, adding that no action had been taken against the officers involved in his detention and assault.