Lawyers up in arms against police

26 May 2015


A VIEW of the gutted office of DSP Daska set ablaze by protesters after the killing of two lawyers on Monday.—PPI
A VIEW of the gutted office of DSP Daska set ablaze by protesters after the killing of two lawyers on Monday.—PPI

DASKA: Sporadic violent protests erupted in several cities of Punjab after the Daska police shot dead two lawyers, including the president of the local bar association, on Monday.

Daska police station SHO inspector Shahzad Warraich allegedly fired at the lawyers who were protesting outside the Daska tehsil municipal administration (TMA) office on kutchehry road against its record keeper for allegedly misbehaving with a lawyer, Amir Shahzad Bajwa.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident and a joint investigation team (JIT) to investigate the incident, saying all responsible police officials would be taken to task.

TMA staff said the protesting lawyers beat up some of their colleagues, forcing them to call police for protection. “The lawyers led by Daska Bar Association president Rana Khalid Abbas, they said, did not stop there. They also hurled stones and abuses at the police and challenged them to shoot them if they had the courage to do so,” an eyewitness said.

The bullets fired by police hit three lawyers – Rana Abbas, Irfan Chohan and Zohaib Sahi – and a passerby.

Protests erupt after Daska Bar Association chief, colleague shot dead

Rana Abbas died at the Daska hospital and Irfan Chohan lost his life while he was being taken to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital. The condition of the injured lawyer Zohaib Sahi and passerby Shahbaz was stated to be critical at the Daska Civil Hospital.

Immediately after the incident, the lawyers took to the streets and besieged the police station, as well as the offices of the DSP and the assistant commissioner.

They threw stones at police and blocked traffic on almost all city roads. They also set tyres on fire to vent their anger.

Locked inside the police station, police fired teargas shells on the protesters from inside to disperse them.

Clashes continued for several hours, resulting in several injuries and complete closure of markets in Daska.

Additional police contingents had to be brought to bring the situation under control. The lawyers in Sialkot, Sambrial and Pasrur also came out on the streets to protest the killings of their colleagues, laying siege to offices of the district officials.

The Daska city police registered a double murder case under sections 302, 324, 149 and 148 of PPC against Inspector Warraich and five other policemen suspected of having fired at and killed the lawyers. The inspector is claimed to have been arrested.

The killings led to violent protests in other cities of Punjab. Among other cities, the protesting lawyers clashed with police in Lahore, Gujranwala, Okara, Faisalabad and Sahiwal. At places, they also manhandled passersby and media teams covering their protests.

In Lahore, the lawyer staged a rally on The Mall and vainly tried to enter the Punjab Assembly. They closed the gates of the Lahore High Court to prevent the judges from leaving the building, forced their entry into the commissioner’s office and damaged his official car.

In Gujranwala, the lawyers blocked the roads, beat up several policemen and damaged the vehicles of the Elite Force. The Okara police fired in the air to disperse a group of lawyers that clashed with them.

The Pakistan Bar Council and other lawyers’ bodies have announced three-day mourning in Punjab, and countrywide protests and boycott of courts on Tuesday.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has given a call for province-wide peaceful protests against the incident. PTI chief Imran Khan said in a statement that police had become murderers rather than protectors.

Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2015

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