Denial of bail to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman: Countrywide Jang-Geo Group protesters dismayed

July 09, 2020

KARACHI/LAHORE/RAWALPINDI/PESHAWAR: The countrywide protest by workers of the Geo-Jang Group along with journalists and labour organizations and political workers entered the 117th day on Wednesday...

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KARACHI/LAHORE/RAWALPINDI/PESHAWAR: The countrywide protest by workers of the Geo-Jang Group along with journalists and labour organizations and political workers entered the 117th day on Wednesday against the unlawful arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo-Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman on trumped-up charges, terming it tyrannical, miscarriage of justice and part of the government inspired witchhunt against the independent media houses. The protesters also expressed their dismay over denial of bail to Rahman by the Lahore High Court.

Meanwhile in Lahore, senior journalists and media workers also continued their protest against the illegal arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief on Davis Road. Senior journalists Shaheen Qureshi, Ishaq Shakir, Maqsood Butt, Azhar Muneer, Shahab Ansari, Zaheer Anjum, Awais Qarni, Jang Workers Union Secretary Muhammad Farooq, Muhammad Wajid, Rehman Shahid, Aziz Sheikh, Munawar Hussain and people from different walks of life participated in the protest.

Veteran journalist Azhar Muneer reiterated his resolve to court arrest in protest against the government crackdown on the Jang-Geo Group which has boiled down to persecution of its Editor-in-Chief. However, his colleagues convinced him not to do so and rather continue the struggle. The other speakers said the people who attacked democracy and independent media will not be allowed to succeed. They said they were hopeful that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman would be granted bail on Wednesday but they were disappointed once again. They expressed the resolve to knock on the doors of Supreme Court of Pakistan. They were of the unanimous view that Rahman’s arrest by NAB is manifestation of the government's fascist policies conspiring against the parliament and democracy following its failure of governance and in providing any succour to the people. Demanding immediate release of Rahman, they said he has been put behind the bars, without any FIR or crime, for fighting for democracy and independence of media. But he will never bow before the fascist government, they added. They appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the situation and help release the editor-in-chief of Jang-Geo Group immediately. The protesters also chanted slogans against the NAB-government nexus to coerce the free media and political rivals into submission.

Similarly, the workers of Jang-Geo Group in Peshawar termed the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict disappointing. Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the government and NAB, the protesters said that the court rejected the bail application of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a case that did not fall under the jurisdiction of NAB. They said they considered the decision as extremely painful and disappointing.

Speaking on the occasion, senior journalists, including Arshad Aziz Malik, Shakeel Farman Ali and others quoted constitutional experts and said there was no justification for arresting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in this 34-year-old property case but still, he had been detained for the last 117 days. They appealed to the chief justice Supreme Court to provide justice to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The protesters said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has not committed any crime and he should have been granted bail long ago. They said the government was using NAB for the political victimization of opponents and free media. however, they said, it could not dissuade the Jang-Geo Group from reporting the truth.

In Rawalpindi, the protesters outside the offices of Jang and The News chanted slogans and carried placards demanding release and withdrawal of charges against the Editor-in-Chief of the Geo-Jang Group. The Chairman Joint Action Committee of Geo-Jang Group Nasir Chisti said there are no two views over the fact that his arrest is part of the plot hatched against the Geo-Jang Group but despite this Mir Shakil would emerge victorious. Chairman Editorial Committee of Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said the Group has always fought for the freedom of media and all those who believe in justice, human rights and freedom of media fully support it.

Addressing the congregation, Leader of Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e Fiqa-e-Jaffaria Allama Qamar Haider Zaidi said TNFJ condemns Rahman's arrest and stood by the workers of the group in the struggle for his release and for resisting media curbs. Leader of PML-N Rawalpindi Imtiaz Taji said all the political workers of the country supported the Geo-Jang Group workers and demanded release of their Editor-in-Chief and supported the struggle for the freedom of media. The Secretary General Jang Union, Yameen Kanga, Secretary General The News Employees Union, Karachi, Dara Zafar, Amjad Ali Abbassi, Munir Shah, Malik Nusrat, Azhar Sultan and others said the morale of the workers was high and their struggle will continue till the release of Editor-in-Chief.

Likewise in Karachi, the Hockey Association Karachi President Gulfaraz Khan Khattak condemned the continued detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and said that the law in the civilised world only allows arresting a person after the registration of a case against them but in Pakistan, the practice was tantamount to making a mockery of justice. He said that the whole world was denouncing the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanding the authorities to take action against the illegalities by the National Accountability Bureau, but in vain because the federal government was waging a vendetta against the Jang-Geo Group.

He said that the Jang-Geo Group has a history of serving the interests of the country and even played an active role in the independence movement. Khattak said that the government was compounding the crisis in the country through its incompetent economic and other policies and is attacking the independent media to hide its terrible performance. He demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and urged the chief justice of Pakistan to take action against this lawlessness.

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