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LAHORE: Eleven of the several students planning a “Save the Humans” rally outside the Lahore Press Club were detained for hours at Racecourse police station on Friday.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Dr Haider Ashraf said in late hours they had released them after their parents submitted surety bonds.

“We had not arrested or detained them; we just took them under protective custody,” he added.

11 students freed after detention

Police officials called the rally disruption to law and order as it was being planned in response to a procession by various religious parties on Wednesday. They said the students were taken into protective custody, only to avoid any untoward event in the city.

According to participants, the rally by the Democratic Students Alliance was planned at Liberty Roundabout at 2pm. The group consists of students from elite private universities. Police, however, stopped them from the demonstration.

Awami Workers Party’s Farooq Tariq said the students later decided to hold the show outside the press club at 3pm. Minutes before the rally, he said, the police took away 11 of them.

He said the rally was to raise voice against fundamentalism.

“It was not against any group or individual; it was just to raise voice against fundamentalism,” he said.

Many students, parents, lawyers and journalists were also present outside the Racecourse police station but police did not allow anyone to meet the detained students.

“Senior police officials are busy in a meeting,” a police constable would tell the gathering.

Students called the police action illogical.

Zaheer Ahmed, a Beaconhouse National University student, said among the detained students were two minors - Hamza and Aneela.

Mahlab, a Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) student, criticised the police action, demanding the immediate release of the students.

“We’re here to ask police to either release them or charge them so that we get them released through a bail petition,” Mahlab added.

Police had its own demands to release the students.

“We would release them if you submit us surety bonds,” Muhammad Rizwan, Civil Lines station house officer, told the activists.

Also, a spokesperson for LUMS said the university as an institution was apolitical and took no role in political activities of any individual. “Our students exercise full rights of citizenship, including political rights. We encourage them to always observe the law and constitution and also to follow their conscience and principles”, a statement by the spokesperson stated.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2017