Sedition cases registered against organisers and participants of student march

Updated December 02, 2019

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LAHORE: Students squat on the road to block it near the new campus of Punjab University in protest against the registration of cases.—White Star
LAHORE: Students squat on the road to block it near the new campus of Punjab University in protest against the registration of cases.—White Star

LAHORE: Police have registered cases against the organisers and participants of the recently held Student Solidarity March on sedition charges and arrested Alamgir Wazir, one of the participants.

The Civil Lines police on behalf of the state registered a case on sedition charges against the march’s organisers, including Ammar Ali Jan, Farooq Tariq, Iqbal Lala (father of Mashal Khan who was lynched over allegation of blasphemy in Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan), Alamgir Wazir (nephew of MNA and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement leader Ali Wazir), Mohammad Shabbir and Kamil Khan, besides 250-300 unidentified participants.

Interestingly, the action flies in the face of the recent statements by several ministers and government representatives who supported the students.

The students took to the streets in 50 cities of the country to voice their demands, including restoration of student unions.

According to the FIR, complainant Sub-Inspector Mohammad Nawaz said he was on patrol when he received information that a rally of 250-300 people led by Ammar Ali Jan, Farooq Tariq, Iqbal Lala, Alamgir Wazir, Mohammad Shabbir and Kamil Khan was being taken out. He said he had reached Faisal Chowk on The Mall where the protesters were forcibly blocking the road to set up a stage to deliver speeches.

“The speakers incited the students against the state and its institutions and speeches and slogans were recorded on mobile phones and can also be checked through PPIC3 cameras,” he claimed.

Capital City Police Officer Zulfiqar Hameed told Dawn that one of the suspects, Alamgir Wazir, was arrested two days ago in the case. He said the case was registered on behalf of the state because the students were delivering provocative speeches and chanting slogans against the state and its institutions. He said police would arrest the other people involved in the case as well.

Alamgir Wazir, a former Punjab Uni­versity student who went on to become chairperson of the Pakhtun Council, had gone missing from the campus two days ago. He had completed his BS Gender Studies from the university last year and was there to get his degree. He was staying at hostel No 19 with his cousin Mohammad Riaz.

The Pukhtun Council students protested against the arrest of Alamgir Wazir outside the Punjab University vice chancellor’s house. The protesters condemned the arrest and demanded his immediate release. Social media is abuzz with the news of his disappearance and demand for his recovery.

This is not the first case registered against students and activists on sedition charges. In February, an FIR was lodged in Multan where police arrested Progressive Youth Alliance activist Rawal Asad and kept him in jail for a month.

Ammar Ali Jan tweeted: “We have been nominated in an FIR. We met Governor who assured us of support. Ministers tweeted in our support. Protesters gathered & dispersed peacefully. Do we even have a govt in our country? Can we trust anybody’s words? We are peaceful citizens & will remain undeterred.”

Talking to Dawn, he said thousands of students were protesting in the country for restoration of student unions and their other rights, but sedition case had been registered against them. The government, he said, was using the colonial-era law to penalise them just as the British would book natives for chanting slogans against their King.

“Are we living in democracy or under any kingship? Its inhuman law in a democracy and it’s a message of the state that they can use draconian laws against its people but can’t give them their rights,” he deplored.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2019