–Police arrest over 29 PTM activists for holding demo against PTM chief’s arrest
–Court rejects Manzoor Pashteen’s request for interim bail, orders transfer to DI Khan jail
PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: A day after Peshawar police took Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen into custody on sedition charges, the Islamabad police arrested at least 29 PTM activists, including Members of National Assembly (MNA) MNA Mohsin Dawar, in the federal capital for staging a protest for Pashteen’s release.
Meanwhile, a local court in Peshawar on Tuesday ordered Manzoor Pashteen’s transfer to a jail in Dera Ismail Khan, where a first information report (FIR) has been registered against him. The police didn’t produce Pashteen in the court.
According to police, a case was registered against the PTM chief at the City Police Station in DI Khan on January 18 under sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition), and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
According to the FIR, Pashteen and other PTM leaders had attended a gathering on January 18 in DI Khan where the PTM chief had allegedly said that the 1973 Constitution violated basic human rights. The FIR added that Pashteen also made ‘derogatory’ remarks about the state.
Police had also arrested nine other PTM workers who were identified as Muhammad Salam, Abdul Hameed, Idrees, Bilal, Mohib, Sajjadul Hassan, Aimal, Farooq and Muhammad Salman at the time of the raid in Peshawar.
Pashteen, who was not presented in court during Tuesday’s proceedings, was represented by his lawyers Shahab Khattak, Farhat Afridi, and Advocate Fazl. Their request for a transit bail for Pashteen was rejected by the court.
After Pashteen is shifted to DI Khan, he is expected to be presented before a judicial magistrate for physical remand.
DAWAR, SHAHJAHAN ARRESTED:
The Islamabad Police, meanwhile, scuttled a protest held outside the National Press Club and arrested over a dozen PTM supporters. Besides lawmakers Wazir and Dawar, Awami Workers Party (AWP) leaders Ismat Shahjahan and Ammar Rashid are also among the detainees.
The PTM supporters were gathered there with senior politicians Afrasiab Khattak and Bushra Gohar as well as party supporters and workers to protest against Pashteen’s arrest. Protests were also held in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar in addition to different capitals of the world.
ایم این اے محسن داوڑ کا گرفتاری کے دوران کارکنوں کے نام پیغام۔ pic.twitter.com/RrTTAgYWPj
— PaShteen IDrees (@Pashteenidrees1) January 28, 2020
Following Pashteen’s arrest, Dawar and Wazir had condemned the action, saying that instead of addressing the group’s grievances, the state had resorted to arresting its leader.
Dawar said he had contacted the police to ask on what grounds Pashteen had been arrested and claimed that authorities did not give any reasons and refused to cooperate.
Terming the arrest as an “abduction”, Dawar had said: “We think that Manzoor Pashteen has been arrested for the speech he delivered in Bannu in which he said he will gather all Pashtun leaders.” He urged PTM workers to stay “peaceful like always” and announced that the group will hold protests across the country as well as abroad on Tuesday.
PTM is a rights-based alliance that, besides calling for the de-mining of the former tribal areas and greater freedom of movement in the latter, has insisted on an end to the practices of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and unlawful detentions, and for their practitioners to be held to account within a truth and reconciliation framework.
The party has been critical of the state’s policies in the country’s tribal belt, where a massive operation against terrorists was conducted in recent times leading to large-scale displacement and enforced disappearances.
PTM’s leaders, in particular its elected members to the National Assembly, have come under fire for pursuing the release of individuals detained by authorities without due process. The army alleges the party of running an anti-national agenda and for playing into the hands of the state’s enemies.
PTM’s MNAs — Dawar and Wazir — were arrested by police after a protest gathering in Kharqamar for allegedly using violence and clashing with army personnel. The party while rejecting these allegations, insisted that theirs is a peaceful struggle for the rights of people from the country’s tribal belt.