LAHORE: Senior journalist Rana Tanvir, who had written about religious minorities and human rights issues in his work, was run over by a car on Friday – June 09, 2017. The incident happened days after a graffiti appeared on his main door, which read the journalist was liable to be killed for his work.
“The physical attack on the journalist comes days after Lahore police official expressed reluctance to protect him and Friday’s deliberate attempt is encouraged by official apathy journalists in distress face in Punjab province,” the Freedom Network (FN), Pakistan’s media watchdog organisation said on June 11, 2017, in its press freedom alert.
“What has alarmed us is the fact that police did not extend any help or support when Rana Tanvir visited Civil Lines SP Ali for protection and did not help register FIR against perpetrators of the crime. This arrogance or negligence of the official is worth noting by the Punjab government which is taking credit for transparency in services to its people,” the press freedom alert went on to say.
The FN said the attacks on religious minorities had been haunting Pakistan for a long time and attacks on journalists taking up this issue are on the rise.
“We demand both the Punjab government and the journalist’s employer – Express Tribune – to do what they can to protect the journalist,” the FN said. The journalist survived the attempt on his life but it landed in a hospital bed with an injured left leg.
“I just had a surgery for fractured bones in my left leg and shifted to a ward bed,” the journalist told FN on Sunday.
The death threat was hurled for his writing about religious minorities and human rights violations, he said in an email he sent on June 7, He moved to “safe home” following the graffiti which he noticed on May 30, 2017.
“On May 30 at about 11am when I came out of my rented house at Habibullah Road, Garhi Shahu, Lahore, to go to the office, I saw a threatening writing on my house-door with spray paint which declared me deserving death by terming me as non-believer and supporter of Ahmadis. That was shocking for me and my wife,” the journalist wrote.
“Meanwhile, the house lord and his mother also reached and asked me to leave the house as it was also posing threat to their lives.
“I immediately covered the door with a piece of cloth so that other neighbours cannot see it and moved the family to my relatives in the cantonment area of Lahore. I took one of my colleagues and a relative with me visit the Racecourse Police Station and filed an application narrating the whole episode. No FIR so far was registered,” the journalist said.
He went on add that the next day along with his colleague he visited DIG (Operations) Lahore Dr Haider Ashraf and informed him about the behaviour of the police which was not willing to lodge any FIR or trying to trace out the responsible.
“He called the Civil Lines SP and advised us to visit him. We went to him and he said there is no need to register FIR as it would make you more vulnerable and it would enrage the religious fanatics. I requested him to at least try to identify the suspect who visited my house in the broad daylight.
The SP said, “police officers and journalists are doing Jihad and in the way of Jihad we should not be afraid of sacrifice. Mashal is a martyr and his killers are still being cursed.” Listening to this, we left his office having no other remedy, the journalist narrated.
The journalist is working for an English daily newspaper, which is carrying reports on religious minorities in Pakistan more prominently than any other media outlet and the organisation faced a number of attacks for the same reasons. Tanveer said he moved to his current home just under one and a half years ago so his daughter could attend a local school. Three months ago, the journalist said, his landlord began receiving calls from an unknown number advising him to evict Tanveer and his family, saying that he is a “kafir (infidel)” and an “enemy of Islam.”
Tanveer said he moved to his current home just under one and a half years ago so his daughter could attend a local school. Three months ago, the journalist said, his landlord began receiving calls from an unknown number advising him to evict Tanveer and his family, saying that he is a “kafir (infidel)” and an “enemy of Islam.”
It is pertinent to mention here that it is not the first threat journalist Tanveer is facing. In 2013, he received a threatening letter at his office address. The “State of Human Rights in 2013”, the annual report published by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, mentioned this threat on its 115th page.
“The latest threat is unique which made my whole family worried as my wife is asking me to leave journalism, which I cannot at any cost. I am reaching out to you to let you know that this incident has put me and my wife, with two of our kids, under constant stress,” the journalist wrote in his mail he shared with many people to foretell the impending dangers.
“In such a situation it is very difficult to continue doing my professional duties under constant threat. As the chief reporter and team leader of the daily in Lahore for the last seven years, I know that my credibility and objectivity rests on my ability to be proactive in highlighting issues revolving religion and victimisation of religious minorities.”