LAHORE: A Progressive Students Collective (PSC) activist on Thursday evening safely returned home after allegedly remaining over 12 hours in custody of the law enforcement agencies.

Mohsin Abdali, an MPhil student in Agricultural Sciences at the University of the Punjab was picked by 10 to 12 unidentified armed men from his Baghbanpura house early on Wednesday morning.

Abdali’s brother Umer Bashir in his complaint lodged at Baghbanpura police station stated that around 10 to 12 armed men arrived at their house at 4am when all the family members were asleep.

He said when his father opened the door, the armed men in plainclothes asked about Abdali and went to his brother’s room who was asleep. The intruders, he said, started beating his brother and later bundled him into their vehicle and went away.

He said the intruders also took away his brother’s laptop and mobile phone. They also snatched his father’s phone, he added.

He said they reported the incident to Baghbanpura police.

A senior police official on condition of anonymity told Dawn that the suspect was taken into custody for the “anti-state” speeches he made at different rallies.

Earlier, there were unconfirmed reports that Minchinabad, Bahawalnagar district, police had taken Mr Abdali into custody in a cheque dishonor case lodged against him under section 489-F of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

However, Bahawalnagar District Police officer (DPO) Qudus Baig had said they had nothing to do with the arrest.

Umer said he and other student activists were gathering outside the Punjab Assembly to stage a demonstration for his brother’s release when they were informed about Abdali’s return.

He, however, said his brother was not tortured in custody.

He said those who picked Abdali did not return his brother’s mobile phones and laptop.

Meanwhile, civil society including students, Climate Action Now, Women Democratic Front, Aurat March, Lahore Left Front, Progressive Students Collective, International Marxist Tendency and Amnesty International expressed their concern over the arrest of Mr Abdali, who was also a key organiser of the recent Climate March.

Following his disappearance, other activists had staged protest, saying Abdali, was among many others being deprived of their constitutional right to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and due process of law.

They demanded release of all those, including Abdali, who had been ‘peacefully exercising their right’.

They said such “enforced disappearances” were an international crime, and a violation of the Constitution as well as basic human rights.

During the protest held at Charing Cross students demanded immediate release of other detained student activists and political workers.

Teachers, students, and other civil society activists also participated in the demonstration.

Published in Dawn, January 31st, 2020

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