Case against manhandled reporter amid media debate
KARACHI: Amid a debate on media ethics and calls for training of security personnel, the police registered a “counter-case” against the reporter of a private news channel on the complaint of a National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) official for creating “hindrances in official work” a day after she lodged a complaint against a Frontier Constabulary guard for allegedly slapping her in the face during the recording of a television show, officials said on Friday.
The FIR against the TV reporter, Saima Kanwal, and her team members carried the sections of the Pakistan Penal Code defining punishment for those who created hindrance in official work and challenged the writ of the state.
SSP Muqaddas Haider confirmed that a case against the journalist and her team had been registered on a written complaint submitted by the Nadra official, Niaz Ahmed.
On Thursday the Gulbahar police registered an FIR [166/2016] against FC guard Hasan Abbas posted at the Nadra office in Liaquatabad for allegedly slapping Ms Kanwal, who went there for recording of her show for K-21 TV channel about the problems being faced by people at the office.
A video clip that showed the FC guard slapping the reporter went viral on social media. Soon afterwards, the incident came to the notice of the authorities.
SSP Haider said the Nadra official had filed his application for an FIR against the news channel’s team the same evening [Thursday] but it took time before it was turned into a formal case.
The police would investigate both cases before taking any further step, he added.
The unsavoury episode triggered a debate about media ethics, code of conduct for journalists and the behaviour of broadcast journalists. It also kicked off discussions about the need for training of security officials performing duties at public places.
Senior journalists, media bodies and professionals from different walks of life strongly condemned the FC guard’s reaction against the reporter.
However, they also questioned Ms Kanwal’s professionalism and the way she was addressing the FC guard and challenging him among dozens of people.
The 29-second video clip appears to show Ms Kanwal trying to grab the guard’s collar.
“Whatever we watched over the video is extremely painful and the security guard’s action is condemnable,” said Fazil Jameeli, president of the Karachi Press Club. “But I am sorry to say that what the reporter was doing was not journalism at all. Here we need to understand that our broadcast or electronic media is passing through its early years and cannot be termed mature.
“So such episodes can provide lessons to our professional colleagues as to how they are expected to execute their job without assigning themselves the job of policing the state.”
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan ordered a probe into the incident, adds APP news agency.
In a statement, the minister said that misbehaving with journalists while they were performing their duties would not be tolerated.
Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2016