Black coats on streets, all others home

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  • Lawyers shun courts, protest against Daska incident across province, vandalise Punjab Assembly entrance, police van
  • Sialkot DPO says SHO Warraich under arrest, will take him on remand today, submit challan soon
  • Lawyers, analysts term Daska-like incidents result of policy level confusion, lack of transparently issued directives through chain of command

 

A day after two lawyers were killed by City Police Station Station House Officer (SHO) Inspector Shahzad Warraich in Daska, a large number of baton-wielding lawyers, wearing black ribbons on their shoulders, carried out violent rallies across the Punjab on Tuesday.

The lawyers in Lahore took out a rally from Lahore High Court (LHC) to Punjab Assembly (PA) at The Mall, tried to break through the assembly gate and set its security shade on fire.

A heavy contingent of Rangers and police remained deployed outside the PA to disperse lawyers.

Speaking to Pakistan Today, Lahore SSP Operations Baqar Raza said that lawyers tried to enter the assembly last night and the police had been guarding the assembly since then. “The policemen who are guarding the assembly building are unarmed. We don’t want any more incidents such as Daska’s,” SSP Raza said.

The protesters tore Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) banners and surrounded an Elite Force vehicle at the scene and vandalised it, beating the windows in.

They chanted slogans against the police and government, demanding legal action against SHO Warraich who gunned down lawyers, including Daska Bar Association president Rana Khalid Abbas, protesting outside the Daska Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) office against its office bearers for allegedly misbehaving with a lawyer.

The lawyers also burnt tyres and blocked Lahore’s main arteries. A large number of city traffic police wardens remained deputed for diverting traffic to alternative routes.

No lawyer appeared in any court on Tuesday and a complete strike was observed after the calls from the Punjab Bar Council and the Lahore Bar Association. The city government also suspended the Metro Bus Service between MAO College and Gajjumata.

Earlier, the lawyers offered funeral in absentia of the deceased lawyers. A large number of lawyers and high court judges were present on the occasion.

Protests and strikes were also witnessed in Quetta, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan and other parts of the country where lawyers burnt tyres and chanted slogans against the government while holding banners.

The aggrieved lawyers also broke through the main gate of the Gujranwala district police officer (DPO) office early on Tuesday and also hurled stones at the DPO office in Silakot.

The law enforcers continued to disperse lawyers through the use of teargas.

SHO ARRESTED:

In the meanwhile, talking to Pakistan Today, Sialkot DPO Shahzad Akbar said that police have arrested the SHO Warraich who had been nominated in the FIR registered by the lawyers. “We are taking his remand today and the challan would be submitted soon,” DPO Akbar said, adding that lawyers had only nominated the SHO in FIR.

Previously, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had ordered a judicial enquiry into the incident and a joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the incident, saying all responsible police officials would be taken to task.

However the Punjab government on Tuesday decided to withdraw its request to the Lahore High Court for formation of judicial commission.

Sources said that the Punjab government had written a letter to the LHC chief justice to hold a judicial enquiry of the incident under Punjab Tribunal of Inquiry Ordinance 1969 so that action could be taken against the accused officials. However, on Tuesday the government took back its request, citing the formation of a joint investigation team for the purpose.

THEY SPEAK OF JUSTICE:

In the meanwhile, lawyers detested uncalled-for use of force by the police.

“Police must arrest the main accused and their accomplices who had killed and tortured the lawyers in Daska and submit the challan within 14 days,” said Advocate Zain Qureshi, who was a part of the rally.

Condemning the “brutal murder of two learned colleagues”, Advocate Ali Ibrahim demanded strong action against the police. He added that the government needs to “stop hiding behind joint investigation teams (JITs)” while all the concerned parties ought to act within the confines of the law.

Barrister Ahmed Pervaiz told Pakistan Today that the Daska incident showed “emerging trend of police brutality”. “The protocol here appears to be a simple ‘shoot at sight, without just cause’. Our police appear to act at whims, unperturbed by the excesses it commits.”

Barrister Pervaiz added, “Lawyers must equally respect law and steer clear of descending into vigilantism.”

While Supreme Court Advocate Taffazul Hussain Rizvi rendered such events “a reflection on the erosion of social fabric”, political economist Mobeen Ahmed Chughtai opined, “Repeated and rampant violent clashes between organs of the State – in this case the police and judicial officials – is a sign of systemic imbalance which is a result of policy level confusion. With no clear directives identifiably or transparently issued by the chain of command, the police become either an instrument of oppression or an instrument of chaos while dealing with the citizens.”

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