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Dawn Journalist Beaten Up For Revealing Criminal Negligence At Shangla Hospital

A local journalist was severely beaten up for revealing alleged medical malpractice by doctors at Tehsil Headquarters Hospital (THQ) in Shangla, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Umar Bacha, Dawn correspondent from the Shangla district and former correspondent of The Express Tribune, was assaulted by four armed persons on Tuesday morning near his office. Bacha had reported a case of criminal negligence by doctors at THQ Shangla.

The journalist said one of the medical staff members belongs to a local political family. After the story was published, he allegedly received a threatening call from JUI-F leader namely Ammad Khan.
Just two days later, on Tuesday, he was on his way to office when a group of four armed persons allegedly led by a man identified as Shahruh Khan intercepted his vehicle near his office and started beating him with pistol butts and sticks.

Later, the attackers fled leaving him unconscious. Bacha was shifted to the THQ hospital for medico-legal formalities. He received multiple injuries on his head, back and face.

The victim alleged that the local police was reluctant to register FIR against the attacker because he had written news reports on the police’s alleged role in protecting drug traffickers in the area. He also claimed that SHO Habib Sayed held grudges against him for this reason.

According to Umar, the police had arrested all the attackers, but later released them.

Deputy Commissioner Shangla Imran Ranja when contacted said FIR has been registered against the nominated attackers and one of them had been arrested. When asked why police could not prevent the attack as the journalist was receiving threats, he said the local police can protect him if he immediately reported the threats to the police.

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He, however, said the local police will follow the merit in the persuasion of investigation and the victim will be served justice.

The assault of journalist revived concerns about media freedom in Pakistan, which is said to be one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. Many journalists have been killed in the line of duty and many others are on a tightrope for doing justice with their profession.

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Naya Daur