A Hindu reporter for a state-run news agency in Pakistan says he is being pressured into retracting his allegations about facing discrimination by colleagues on the basis of religion.
Sahib Khan, a Grade-III reporter for the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), had earlier alleged his boss had asked him to “use separate utensils to eat and drink in at work” after his colleagues found out he was a Hindu.
But after the issue was brought to limelight through media reports, Sahib says, his boss is pressuring him into falsifying such reports.
“On Wednesday, he [bureau chief] made me sit in his office for over four hours, pressurising me into falsifying media reports on the incident,” Sahib said while talking to Dawn.
“He wants me to say that all such reports circulating in the media are lies. He even said ‘if you can take extreme measures, so can we’.”
Sahib recalled how his colleagues had reacted when he brought his son to work a few weeks back. “When I introduced my son as Raj Kumar, they asked me in amazement if I was Hindu.
“The very next day, our bureau chief called me up for a meeting and asked me to use separate utensils for eating and drinking at work because others had problems.”
APP Karachi bureau chief Parvez Aslam, in a statement emailed to Dawn, termed the reports of the incident as ‘misleading’ and ‘baseless’.
Aslam said there was “no discrimination against any minority member working at the APP on any basis, let alone religion”.
He also denied reports that Sahib was being ‘mistaken’ for a Muslim earlier due to his surname ‘Khan’. “As a matter of fact, all his [Sahib’s] colleagues were well aware that he was a Hindu by religion but there was no discrimination against him at any stage,” he said.
Aslam went on to say that the APP management investigated the reported incident following a ‘malicious’ letter from the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) and found that all charges were ‘frivolous’.
Journalist unions condemned the alleged discriminatory behaviour with Sahib Khan. Secretary of the Karachi Union of Journalists (Dastoor) Shoaib Khan slammed the incident and demanded a thorough probe into it. He said: “We have many Hindu and Christian colleagues who eat and drink with us on the same table. No one has ever objected or caused problems because of this.”
Karachi Union of Journalists (Burna) secretary Wajid Raza also condemned the incident and said he would personally investigate it.
This article first appeared on Dawn.