MULTAN (Staff Report) – Massive protests in southern Punjab follow the brutal killing of a journalist who was gunned down on Wednesday for allegedly supporting a couple who married for love, against the wishes of the girl’s family.

Ajmal Joyia, 36, who had worked for several national newspapers over the past 12 years, was travelling with a friend on a motorcycle in Kehror Pucca when five armed men intercepted him and sprayed a volley of bullets in his direction.

Joyia was hit six times. His friend Ali Hassan, who was accompanying him at the time, was shot twice.

The wounded were shifted to Kehror Pucca DHQ Hospital where Joyia succumbed to his injuries. Saddar Police handed the body to family after medico-legal formalities.

Joyia’s father Nazar Muhammad has named Iqbal Sial, Riaz Sial, Abbas Sial and two other unidentified assailants in an FIR registered with Saddar Police station, the Express Tribune reported.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that Joyia had been threatened with dire consequences by the men earlier. Sughra Bibi, sister of the Sial brothers, had married a man called Shahzad against their wishes and left her paternal home.

Joyia had reportedly extended his support to the beleaguered couple. He had reportedly raised the issue in the press and approached district authorities to provide the couple with adequate security.

Journalists’ associations in Lodhran, Vehari and Multan have demanded the immediate arrest of Joyia’s killers, calling on Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to extend financial aid to the family of the deceased journalist.

Following the protests, Lodhran DPO Saad Sarfaraz constituted three special police teams to nab the journalist’s killers.