ZTBL officials round up EOBI men, journalists | Pakistan Today

ZTBL officials round up EOBI men, journalists

The government faced an embarrassing situation on Wednesday when the management of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) held a recovery team of the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution (EOBI) and some reporters hostage, with police resorting to baton-charging the protesting media men, injuring two of them seriously. An EOBI recovery team reached the ZTBL Head Office along with a media team to recover Rs 85 million deducted by the bank from the employees’ salaries, but not transacted to the EOBI accounts. After the two parties got into a verbal clash, the recovery team were restricted to a room by the bank’s management. The reporters covering the development were also barred from their activity by the bank management, which pulled DVDs out of the reporters’ cameras and also manhandled them.
The ZTBL is headed by Zaka Ashraf, brother of PML-N parliamentarian Ishrat Ashraf and reportedly a close friend of President Asif Zardari, while the EOBI is headed by Zafar Gondal, brother of former PPP minister Nazar Mohammad Gondal. The EOBI is a subsidiary of the Ministry of Labour, headed by PPP stalwart Syed Khurshid Shah. After the episode, the bank management called police to control the situation and police officials brutally baton-charged the journalists, injuring two of them severely. ZTBL Chief Security officer Colonel (r) Manzoor was leading the ZTBL team that manhandled the journalists.
Reporter Wasim Malik, Sammar Abbas and cameramen Asif Mirza and Liaqat Abbasi were taken hostage by the security guards of ZTBL.
Later, heavy contingents of police and anti-terrorist squad arrived for rescue operations, but did not do the needful. After more than an hour, ZTBL employees freed the journalists, but did not hand over the culprits, including the security in-charge and his accomplices, to police, who nonetheless arrested two security guards. Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan arrived at the scene amidst chaos outside the ZTBL head office and held dialogue with senior journalists, assuring them of taking strict action against those involved in the incident. Talking to reporters, Firdous said ZTBL Chief Security Officer Colonel (r) Manzoor had been arrested and separate FIRs would be registered against ZTBL employees and policemen who attacked the newsmen.

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