March 29, 2014
LAHORE: Raza Rumi — a journalist, analyst and a political commentator — was attacked by some unidentified armed men near Raja Market here on Friday night. As a result, the car driver was killed and a security guard sustained serious injuries.
“I was fired upon near Raja Market. My driver is wounded. I was dreading this day,” Raza Rumi posted this message on Twitter at 8:55pm.
Raza Rumi was heading for home after doing his TV show at his office located near the Kalma Chowk in his personal vehicle (UW-322) along with his security guard and driver when he was fired upon.
According to police sources, when Raza Rumi reached near a private hospital situated in the Abubakar Block, Garden Town area, off Ferozepur Road, some unidentified men, apparently waiting for him, sprayed his car with bullets. The windowpanes of the car were smashed and the vehicle was badly damaged from the front side.
The driver, identified as Muhammad Mustafa, 25, received several (seven to eight) bullet wounds on different parts of his body, including chest and head. He lost control over the car, resulting in collision with an electric pole.
The driver was in a pool of blood when he was shifted to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. The security guard, identified as Anwaar Hussain, also sustained two bullet injuries on his shoulders. However, he was stated to be out of danger in hospital.
Fortunately, Raza Rumi, who is in his early forties, remained safe and sustained only minor injuries. The body of the driver was removed to morgue for autopsy and no case was registered till the filing of the report.
Soon after the incident, a heavy contingent of police, including high-ups of the force, reached the crime scene and cordoned off the area to collect evidence. They also recorded statements of Raza Rumi, Anwaar and eyewitnesses.
CCPO Chaudhry Shafique Gujjar, after meeting the slightly injured Rumi, told reporters the incident appeared to be an act of target-killing. He said the journalist was the real target of the killers. He said two teams, one under the SP CIA, and the other under SP Model Town, had been constituted to investigate the incident. To a question as to who could be involved in the attack, the CCPO refused to comment saying he would be in a position to point at someone (person/organisation/group) after the investigation. According to Ch Shafique, police have collected 11 empties from the crime scene.
The CCPO said the policemen had been deployed at the channel’s office when they approached them for security.
Raza Rumi also told the media that unidentified armed men riding two bikes opened fire on his car near the Raja Market. He added that although he had not received any direct threats, he was reportedly on the hitlist of some extremist organisations.
Rumi was discharged from the hospital after necessary treatment the same night.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has also taken notice of the attack.
Agencies add: Raza Rumi said he was distraught over Mustafa’s killing, whom he described as “innocent” and a breadwinner for 10 other family members. “God has saved me. I just heard the… bullets when we took a turn near Raja Market and put my head down,” he said, adding his bodyguard leapt to save him. “Extremists want no counter narrative in the state that is why they are attacking alternative voices.”
Amnesty International’s Pakistan researcher Mustafa Qadri said: “Raza’s case is a sad reminder of the threats faced by journalists like him who are promoting human rights and understanding in Pakistan.
“Amnesty International has documented at least three cases of journalists killed this year as a direct result of their work, with scores of others, like Raza, narrowly escaping,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid on Friday strongly condemned the attack on the vehicle of Raza Rumi. He expressed his heartfelt condolence over the demise of the driver. Also, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemned the attack on Raza Rumi.