LHC issues notice to Punjab govt, police for using force against visually-impaired protesters

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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday issued notices to the Punjab government and police over alleged use of force against visually-impaired protesters.

The petition filed on Tuesday by the Judicial Activism Panel in the LHC said that the protest by differently-abled persons was a continuation of several demonstrations against the Punjab government’s failure to provide them with jobs and salaries.

The petition claimed that differently-abled people were not employed as permanent employees by government departments and the state even “failed to release their salaries on time”.

On March 6, a group of visually-impaired people were headed towards the Punjab chief minister’s house to protest. However, instead of addressing their demands, the police allegedly baton-charged the protesters to prevent them from reaching their destination, leaving several demonstrators “badly injured”, according to the petition.

Prosecutor Advocate Azhar Siddique, in Wednesday’s hearing, argued that the constitution gives every citizen the right to protest. Furthermore, Siddique said, the use of violence against peaceful protesters is a violation of Article 9 (security of person) and Article 14 (inviolability of dignity of man).

Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, who heard the case, asked the defence counsel if the police had any other modern technique of maintaining law and order that did not entail beating people.

He ordered the Punjab police chief or, in his stead, a responsible police official, to appear in court for the next hearing of the case.