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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday warned Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police not to treat Baloch protesters as enemies.

The remarks from Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb come during the hearing of a petition filed last week challenging Baloch protestors’ arrests by the ICT police headed by Dr Akber Nasir Khan and denying them the right to protest in the capital.

The hearing was attended by the senior superintendent of police (SSP) operations, the advocate general (AG) Islamabad and the lawyer representing the organisers of the protest, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC).

Expressing his displeasure, Justice Aurangzeb asked the SSP operations whether the order to treat the protestors brutally was given by him or someone else.

“You make some people sit in your lap while you treat others like this,” the judge remarked as he referred to the mass arrests the protestors were subjected to on reaching Islamabad on foot from Kech in Balochistan. “They have come here. Let them sit, as protest is their right,” remarked the judge.

The counsel for the petitioner said that 34 Baloch protestors were still in police custody and they are yet to be presented in an identification parade.

He said that an individual named Zaheer, named in the first information report (FIR) registered at the Kohsar police station is still missing.

At this, the SSP said that Zaheer was in jail and could not be released due to non-payment of bail amount.

Meanwhile, the advocate general Islamabad said that it was “easy to blame the government, but not a single person from among the protestors is missing”.

“A larger number of protestors than these have come here (Islamabad) before. You have pampered them. What did they (Baloch protestors) do,” the judge asked the SSP.

The petitioner’s lawyer pleaded that the court may seek a report from the ICT police explaining the arrest of more than 50 women protesters.

“There is a lot which I would like to say, but I cannot,” remarked, a visibly angered Justice Aurangzeb.

He then ordered the police to conduct an identification parade of 34 arrested Baloch protesters by today (Wednesday) and also instructed the Islamabad Police to submit a report explaining the arrest of the female protesters.

The hearing was adjourned till December 29.

Authorities claim to have released all Baloch protesters, who arrived in Islamabad last week to highlight the issue of missing persons but were rounded up in a crackdown.

However, the BYC — the protest organisers — disputes this, asserting that Islamabad Police have failed to release all detained protesters despite their three-day deadline’s expired.

The BYC announced that people in Balochistan will stage demonstrations and strikes from Wednesday to protest against authorities’ highhandedness.

“We doubt the government’s sincerity as its negotiation team, assigned by the premier for talks, has not reached out to us in the last two days,” stated a protest leader.

Dr Mahrang Baloch, an activist leading the “March against Baloch Genocide” from Turbat to Islamabad, said that she knows that Islamabad will never do justice to Balochs. “When you ask why my voice seems a bit harsh, I would say it is not harsh rather it is sorrow which the state has inflicted upon Balochistan since creation of Pakistan,” she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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E Dec 28, 2023 08:14am
Hope sense prevails.
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