A local court in Lahore on Monday rejected the police's request for physical remand of Alamgir Wazir, who was detained two days ago in a sedition case registered against the organisers and participants of the recently held Students Solidarity March, and sent him to jail on a 14-day-long judicial remand.
Police had requested 10-day physical remand of Alamgir so they could arrest other suspects by having him identify them in CCTV footage.
The Civil Lines police on behalf of the state had registered a case on sedition charges against the march organisers, including Alamgir (nephew of MNA Ali Wazir), Ammar Ali Jan, Farooq Tariq, Iqbal Lala, father of Mashal Khan (who was lynched on the premises of Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan over false blasphemy allegations), Mohammad Shabbir, and Kamil Khan, besides 250-300 unidentified participants.
Capital City Police Officer Zulfiqar Hameed earlier told Dawn that Alamgir was arrested in the case two days ago. 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, adding that police would arrest others involved in the case as well.
Alamgir, a former Punjab University student who went on to become chairperson of the Pakhtun Council, went missing from the campus two days ago. He had completed his BS in Gender Studies from the university last year and was there to get his degree. He was staying at hostel No 19 with a cousin when he went missing.
The Pakhtun Council students had also protested against Alamgir's arrest outside the Punjab University vice chancellor’s house condemning the action and demanding his release.
During today's proceedings at the Cantt Kachhery, Alamgir was presented in court as police requested for a 10-day physical remand. Police told the court that Alamgir had been arrested on December 1 for an anti-state speech, adding that in violation of the sound system act, he had made an inflammatory speech against state institutions.
Additionally, they said he had created difficulties for the public and violated the law by blocking a road.
Alamgir's lawyer, however, rejected the police request for physical remand, saying since they had CCTV footage, nothing further was required from his client.
Subsequently, the court said record proves that the police already has the CCTV footage and does not need anything from Alamgir. They also asked the investigating officer to present the challan in the case on December 16.
Interim bail approved
According to the First Information Report (FIR) registered against the participants of the Students Solidarity March, 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.
A sessions court in Lahore today approved interim bail for two of the suspects in the case — Ammar Ali Jan and Kamil Khan.
Asking them to submit surety bonds of Rs50,000 each, the court stopped the police from arresting them. Additionally, they asked the Civil Lines police to submit a complete report while adjourning proceedings till December 16.
'FIRs should immediately be withdrawn'
Meanwhile, addressing an event in Islamabad, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said he had previously told the Punjab government and other provincial governments and continues to maintain that FIRs against students should immediately be withdrawn.
Among the demands of the Students Solidarity March was the restoration of student unions and better education facilities.
Chaudhry said student unions exist in educational institutions in foreign countries such as Harvard University, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge and function without weapons, adding that a similar environment needs to be created in Pakistan.
"There is no doubt that student unions are an integral part of the political system of any democratic country," he said, adding: "No political society can actually allow that you ban student unions."