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Police Lockdown of Quetta Press Club Sparks Outrage Among Journalists and Activists

QUETTA: On Saturday, police and local administration locked the gates of Quetta Press Club to prevent members of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) from holding a scheduled seminar.

In response, BYC members laid siege to the press club for several hours, eventually breaking the locks and entering the building. They held their seminar in Hall 1, which had been booked for the event.

The press club administration claimed that an assistant commissioner had instructed the staff not to permit the seminar, leading to the locking of the hall and the main gate.

As BYC conducted their seminar, presided over by BYC leader Dr. Mahrang Baloch, a substantial police presence, including SSP Operation and Quetta DIG, surrounded the press club building and the adjacent Quetta Metropolitan Corporation (QMC) office. The QMC security staff was also directed to prohibit any vehicles from parking inside the premises.

The police cordon remained in place until the BYC activists concluded the seminar in the late afternoon. Despite the tension, no arrests were made as BYC leaders exited the press club building.

Earlier, Quetta Press Club President Abdul Khaliq Rind, General Secretary Banaras Khan, Balochistan Union of Journalists President Khalil Ahmed, and other media personnel convened at the press club to discuss the police and local administration’s actions.

Local and national journalists’ unions condemned the police action, labeling it an attack on free media. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Arshad Ansari stated that press clubs are “neutral areas” meant for voicing the concerns of those who suffer from state oppression. They called for the immediate resumption of activities at press clubs, emphasizing that Article 19 of the Constitution guarantees every citizen’s right to free speech and expression.

The Balochistan Union of Journalists also condemned the incident, demanding an investigation into what they termed “an attack on the freedom of the press” and a blatant violation of Article 19.

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