SC orders judicial probe into torture on journos by Islamabad police

  • CJP seeks explanation for banning public gatherings in capital’s Red Zone

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday ordered a judicial inquiry into the alleged torture on journalists by the Islamabad police on Thursday.

Inspector General (IG) of Islamabad Sultan Taimuri told the Supreme Court (SC) that the police had attacked journalists for trying to enter the Red Zone where demonstrations of any kind are prohibited under Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

However, DawnNews TV reporter Shakeel Qarar, who was one of the journalists leading the protest, claimed he had “verbally informed” the district magistrate that a group of journalists would march towards D-Chowk. He alleged that the police had stopped the proceeding before they got there.

Sultan Azam Temuri said that the police respect journalists but, as per law, a no-objection certificate (NOC) is required for taking out rallies in the federal capital. He also said that the journalists were warned by the police to not proceed towards the Red Zone.

When asked by the chief justice if the journalists turned violent, the police chief explained that the protesters attempted to break the police cordon towards the Parliament House. The CJP observed that the protesting journalists did not have riot gear such as slingshots and sticks, meaning that the protest was meant to be peaceful, adding that using force against women protestors was not appropriate.

Furthermore, the CJP directed the deputy commissioner to explain the imposition of Section 144 in the capital.

He interrogated the authorities over the law banning protests in the federal capital’s high-security Red Zone.

On Thursday, Justice Nisar took notice of police action against protesting journalists– belonging to local and foreign media outlets– who were participating in a rally to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

According to media reports, the police had stopped the rally at D Chowk, which was followed by a “clash” between the police and journalists.

The journalists were marching towards the Parliament House to present their charter of demands. Following the “clashes”, they, however, staged a sit-in in the area which made Justice Nisar take a notice of the incident.