Activist and lawyer Jibran Nasir was briefly detained after he reportedly refused to give way to the convoy of Sindh High Court judge Faisal Kamal while driving in Karachi's Clifton neighbourhood on Monday.
Nasir, who is contesting the general elections as an independent candidate, was driving on Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman Road in Clifton when the convoy of the SHC judge approached from behind his car, SP Clifton Asif Ahmed Bughio told Dawn.
Members of the judge's security squad signalled Nasir to give way to allow the protocol to pass through. However, Nasir reportedly refused to oblige, following which some of the security personnel "misbehaved" with the lawyer and he was taken to Frere police station, the SP said.
In a live video Nasir uploaded on his Facebook page while he was being taken away in a police mobile, the lawyer says he was being bundled away by the protocol of a judge after "beating me and tearing my clothes".
Nasir says this was because his car was pushed to the roadside by the protocol and when he stopped them, he was struck with the "chamber" of a gun. Before the video ends, a man from inside the mobile can be seen attempting to snatch Nasir's cellphone away.
SP Bughio told Dawn that Nasir was allowed to leave after the judge was informed about his identity.
However, Nasir in one of his videos said he will not leave the police station until he is examined by a medico-legal officer and until he is given an explanation by the judge's office as to "under what authority I was beaten up and taken away".
Meanwhile, SSP South Omar Shahid told Dawn the episode occurred after Nasir allegedly "blocked" the judge's vehicle on Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman Road.
The activist is now "forcibly" sitting inside the police station by declaring himself arrested even "though he is not", the SSP said.
SSP Shahid said Nasir is demanding registration of a ‘criminal case’ against the judge’s squad over charges of assaulting him. He is also demanding police’s letter for his medical examination. "Since he was not injured, the police appeared reluctant to give him the letter for medical examination," he added.
Asked whether it is a crime if a citizen declines to give way to VIP protocol, the SSP said that this was not the issue.
“The real issue was that Mr. Nasir had blocked the judge’s vehicle, which was a crime,” the senior officer opined.
Meanwhile, SP Clifton Bughio told Dawn it is "mandatory" to clear the path for a convoy if the security of a judge is concerned.
'The youth of Karachi has been slapped today'
While at the police station, Nasir talked to reporters and posted live videos on Facebook to explain the ordeal he allegedly suffered.
According to Nasir, he had crossed the Chief Minister's House after leaving a private TV channel's studios when he heard security personnel asking him to "leave the way" from behind. Since he was in the middle of traffic, Nasir claimed that he couldn't move; the security protocol then rushed past his car, pushing him to the left side.
Nasir said he then rolled down his window and asked the security personnel why he was pushed to the side. At this, he claimed, a member of the squad loaded his gun towards him and threatened him to get a side.
At the next traffic signal, Nasir claims he was in a lane parallel to that of the protocol and after realising that it was a judge's convoy, he tried to peek to see which judge was travelling in the car. At this moment, Nasir said some security officials disembarked from one of the vehicles, manhandled him and bundled him away in a pickup vehicle. His own car was abandoned on the spot.
"The slap that I have endured today has been endured by the youth of Karachi," Nasir told reporters.
The activist says he was made to sit in the vehicle for half an hour following which he had the squad members inform the judge that he is a high court advocate himself. At this, Nasir claimed, all vehicles stopped and he was offered to leave since the judge — who he identified as Justice Faisal Kamal — knew him (Nasir). But he refused to leave and wanted to be given an explanation at the police station.
Nasir claimed that he was treated respectfully at the police station only after media personnel reached there. He said he has submitted an application on police directions, but is awaiting approval for a medico-legal exam.
A number of activists, journalists and citizens took to Twitter to express shock over reports that Nasir had been detained. Hashtags such as #FreeJibran and #ReleaseJibranNasir also started trending on the social networking site.