ISLAMABAD: A judicial magistrate on Wednesday sent 23 activists of the Pa­­shtun Tahaffuz Move­ment (PTM) to jail on 14-day judicial remand after police relea­­sed seven other activists, including MNA Mohsin Dawar.

The activists were arres­ted from outside the Natio­nal Press Club on Tuesday while protesting detention of PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen.

The Islamabad police produced the activists before the judicial magistrate and told him that they had been arrested for causing unrest and damaging public property during the protest.

On the other hand, the cou­nsel representing the acti­vists requested the court to order their release since there was no evidence to prove the allegations against them. However, the judicial mag­­istrate declined the law­yer’s request and sent the ac­tivists on judicial re­mand, directing police to produce them before the court on Feb 12.

Those released include three women, two elderly protesters and the MNA’s dri­­­­­ver. After their arrest, they were shifted to Kohsar police station where Mr Dawar was requested to leave the police station since he was arrested mistakenly and no legal proceedings were being initiated against him. But he refused and insisted on the release of all detained protesters, police sources said.

It was after prolonged negotiations that the MNA agreed to leave the police station with three women, two elders and his driver.

The other 23 detained persons, however, were booked under several charges, including sedition.

Senior officers of police and capital administration said that the names of the seven people had not been mentioned in the FIR registered after the arrest of the protesters.

It was mentioned in the FIR that scores of protesters managed to escape from the spot, but the complainant and the police officials would identify them when they appeared before them, the officers said.

In London, Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahbaz Sharif condemned the arrest and dete­ntion of MNA Dawar, Awami Workers Party activist Ammar Rashid and others.

Mr Sharif said in a tweet: “Peaceful protest is fundamental human right and central to growth of democracy. Constitution clearly provides framework for resolution of all disputes through dialogue and engagement.”

He added: “Police’s treatment of MNA Mohsin Dawar, Ammar Rashid and their companions was unwarranted and deplorable.”

Atika Rehman in London also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2020