May 9th, 2022
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has demanded that the CCPO Lahore submit a report explaining if “due process” was followed during the arrest of Bebarg Imdad, a Baloch student who was picked by security agencies from outside Punjab University’s hostel complex on April 27.
Before Eid, the court had asked the CCPO, the CTD, and the local SHO to submit a report on Bebarg’s arrest following the filing of a habeas corpus petition submitted by a group of human rights lawyers. According to the court’s roster, the case was supposed to be the last item on today’s agenda but keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter it was expedited and heard at the earliest convenience. A move that showcases the court’s “seriousness” in trying to resolve the matter.
According to the CCPO’s report “Bebarg Imdad was taken into custody by Karachi’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and was being held on suspicion of being linked to the bombing of a Chinese institution in Karachi University (KU). The CCPO also clarified that Punjab University’s Chief Security Officer (CSO) was merely aiding provincial and federal law enforcement agencies and had committed no illegal act, seemingly responding to fervent demands by Punjab University’s Baloch council that an FIR is lodged against the CSO for aiding a students’ abduction.
Haider Butt, one of the lawyers representing Bebagar, said he was getting positive vibes about the case. “The CCPO had tried to frame the episode as if it was a routine legal arrest, it was not. Per our knowledge the LEAs personnel who detained Bebagar did not have a warrant, they did get a remand from a local judge, they also failed to produce an FIR at the scene of the arrest. In short, per our understanding, legal procedures were ignored throughout the proclaimed detention,” says Butt.
The court for its part has ordered the CCPO to attend the hearing in person tomorrow and answer the questions raised by Bebagar’s lawyers.
Meanwhile, a protest camp set up by members of Punjab University’s Baloch council to demand Bebagar’s release (and which continued during the Eid holidays) has entered its 13th day. “Up until now, we have received no indication from the administration that they are going to facilitate the recovery of Bebagar. And there is frustration in the campuses’ Baloch student body. If the administration keeps up with this apathetic behavior we will be forced to move our procession to the main road outside the university or call for a boycott of classes. The admin has tried using force against us in the past and they are still threatening us with the use of force but we will persevere until Bebagar is released,” explains Ehsan Baloch, chairman of the university’s Baloch council.
With the next hearing slotted for tomorrow, the question remains, will the Baloch get relief from the court of law or will they once again have to turn to street protests for the protection of their fundamental human rights.