March 4, 2022
By Xari Jalil
Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah has barred ICT Police from arresting any person who has been nominated in the first information report (FIR) registered against the protesting Baloch students, as well as human rights activist and lawyer Imaan-Zainab Mazari.
Instead, the Chief Justice adjourned the hearing till March 7 and issued notices to the IG Islamabad and Chief Commissioner Islamabad.
In the hearing held on Friday, March 4, the Chief Justice gave stern remarks over the registration of the FIR, as well as over other issues..
There had also been reports that the FIR also included a mutiny clause, but later the police issued a statement denying this. However, the police have sealed the FIR which is a public document.
Referring to the court notice, Imaan-Zainab Mazari spoke to Voicepk.net and said that the Chief Justice had said some very important things.
“First he (judge) asked us if the FIR had been registered because we did not attach a copy of the document since it had been sealed,” she said. “So today they admitted that it was indeed registered, under sections of rioting etc, and consequentially, the judge made some very important statements that if there was such a reaction to the protest held by the Baloch students, then this was in fact the “treason”, not the protest itself.”
Imaan Mazari added that these were very strong remarks and that the judge had also said that no students would be arrested and fixed the next date for Monday where IG police, Chief Commissioner Islamabad and Secretary Ministry of Interior had been summoned.
Speaking about the government, Advocate Mazari said, “We cannot go by what the government is saying, the lathi-charge happened in front of the AC and the DC, and the DC’s level of insensitivity was such, that even after the students were being beaten up ruthlessly, he said to them, ‘Why aren’t you smiling?”
SEALING OF FIR
With reference to the sealing of the FIR, Imaan Mazari said there may not be any law as such that allowed for sealing, but when the police was trying to intimidate, then they often seal FIRs.
“They want to protect the FIR and will seal it until they arrest you. A person has no idea about this, and their right to pre-arrest bail is also taken from them. This seems to be the police’s intention in this case as well.”
In a 2019 case, a magistrate declared the FIR as ‘illegal’, and had said that “sealing of an FIR is always ill-motivated and just to secure the arrest of accused at will without providing them an opportunity to exercise their rights u/s 498-CrPC.”
Withholding of the copy of an FIR is against the basic fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
In the context of all this, Imaan Mazari said that with the attitude of the district administration, the FIR was not shocking at all.
DEMAND FOR RELEASE OF HAFEEZ BALOCH
On Wednesday, March 2, the Islamabad based Baloch students tried to set up a protest camp outside the National Press Club and held a protest against the forced disappearance of Hafeez Baloch from Khuzdar, Balochistan, about three weeks ago. Hafeez was also studying under an MPhil degree in Physics from Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU).
The ICT police dissolved the protest into violence when they baton-charged the protesting students, and one student Qasim Murad was also picked up briefly before being released again, however it was reported that the DC Islamabad had negotiated and had eventually allowed the students to protest.
Speaking in this regard, analyst and civil rights activist, Afrasiab Khattak, said that the treatment of the Baloch students had been despicable.
“Actually, this was open fascism,” said Khattak. “Instead of building a case against those who have abducted a student, they are targeting those students who were protesting peacefully for his release. I think it’s shameful that they are actually being nominated in an FIR for holding a protest – that too after being beaten brutally. This only goes to prove that the relations between the State and the people are badly severed.”
Earlier, the Federal Minister for Human Rights had condemned the violence against students and said that her party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had staged several protests in the federal capital before coming to power.