ISLAMABAD - Islamabad police Monday broke up protest demonstration arranged by Defence of Human Rights and arrested a dozen of family members of missing persons.
It all started in the famous D-Chowk, a few hundred yards from the office of federal Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan who used to visit camps of families of missing persons during his stint as opposition leader in National Assembly during the PPP government.
On Monday, family members, relatives and friends of missing person arrived at D-Chowk in the afternoon to stage a protest on the call of Defence of Human Rights, an NGO. Hundreds of protesters demanded the government use its influence to get released their dear ones who had gone missing over the years.
Violence started at the initially peaceful protest when the protesters stated marching towards the Parliament House. They were confronted by heavy contingent of police, which used tear gas to disperse them. Dozens of young protesters scuffled with policemen making them flee from the scene in the initial encounter.
But then battle went ferocious with the arrival of several dozen additional policemen at the scene. The police then thrashed the protesters, wounding at least a dozen of them, and later on arrested several. Around a dozen policewomen got hold of Amina Masood Janjua, the head of Defence of Human Rights, and subjected her to torture as she refused to give up. The police squad dragged her to a police van and took her to Secretariat Police Station. She was later shifted to the Woman Police Station.
Sultan Azam Temuri, Assistant Inspector General of Islamabad Capitol Territory Police, said the police had to use force to stop the violent protesters from entering the Red Zone. Islamabad District has imposed Section 144 which forbade anyone from entering the sensitive area, he told The Nation. “You would appreciate that Islamabad police asked them (protesters) to refrain from taking the law into their hands, but they did not listen to police officers,” said Temuri. He said police would register an FIR against those who violated Section 144. However, the arrested protesters were later set free on the orders of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Utterly alarmed by the use of violence against families of missing person by police, PTI Central Information Secretary Shireen Mazari condemned the police action. “It was brutal and inhumane, and against the constitutional and democratic right of people to protest, for the government to have allowed such a police attack. These protestors included women and children and all were unarmed. The use of batons and shelling by the police was completely unjustified and those who ordered this brutal action should be held accountable and punished,” she said.
Mazari said it was a shameful reflection on the government to see Pakistani citizens, including women and media personnel, being brutalised by the law enforcers who should rather be protecting these innocent citizens. She added that brutalising these protesting unarmed citizens and the media personnel covering the protest was unacceptable and reflected a fascist governmental streak.
Ironically, those in government today used to visit the missing persons’ camps and offer support when they were not in power, but now they all stand exposed as they only sought cheap popularity in the past, he said. Mazari reiterated that the PTI was the first political party that raised voice in support of missing persons and their families for seeking justice, and for Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
After, initial probe, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan held responsible ASP (City) and ASP (Secretariat) for the incident and issued orders for the suspension of both of these officials.
The minister also asked the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad to hold a judicial inquiry of the incident and submit a complete report to his office in this connection.