LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to recover and produce Azhar Mashwani, a PTI social media activist who has been missing since last week, in court on April 3.

Justice Aalia Neelum passed the order on a habeas corpus petition filed by Mazharul Hassan, Mr Mashwani’s brother.

Meanwhile, PTI’s Insaf Youth Wing on Thursday called for a countrywide protest for the immediate release of Mr Mashwani and his immediate production in the court.

Protest plan

The protest in Lahore will be held outside Lahore Press Club this afternoon (Friday). Earlier, Amnesty International had raised concern over the disappearance of Mr Mashwani, who is PTI chief Imran Khan’s focal person for social media. The human rights watchdog took to Twitter and stated that the organisation is “alarmed by reports of the enforced disappearance of Azhar Mashwani, whose whereabouts remain unknown”.

PTI condemns police raids on residences of party workers, social media activists

During Thursday’s proceedings at the Lahore High Court, the petitioner’s counsel Azhar Siddique told the court that Mr Mashwani was kidnapped from outside his Township residence on March 23 and since then his whereabouts were not known. He said the brother of the petitioner was a law-abiding citizen who was entitled to the fundamental rights including the right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law in respect of liberty and security of a person.

The counsel alleged that the police and officials of the FIA nurtured grudges against the petitioner’s brother and they were being used as a tool of the federal and provincial governments against him.

He pointed out that the Green Town police registered a case of abduction after a sessions court took cognisance of the matter. However, no progress had been made so far.

He said if the detained activist was not recovered from the ‘illegal and unlawful detention’ of the respondents, the petitioner and his detained brother would suffer irreparable loss and injury.

The counsel requested the court to get the brother of the petitioner recovered from the alleged illegal custody of FIA and set him free.

Justice Neelum directed the FIA to produce the missing activist in the court on April 3. The inspector general of police, Punjab, and the Green Town SHO had also been made parties to the petition.

The PTI’s legal aid committee, led by former minister Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed and co-chaired by central Punjab president Dr Yasmin Rashid, on Thursday discussed efforts being made for the release of arrested PTI workers and supporters and process of their cases in different courts.

The PTI leaders said that ‘fascist rulers’ had been violating basic human rights of arrested party activists and supporters.

Dr Rashid called upon police to stop ‘acts of state terrorism’ and to release arrested workers and their family members immediately.

The party lawyers briefed the meeting about the progress in court cases.

Meanwhile, PTI Lahore president Sheikh Imtiaz Mahmood said the caretaker Punjab government at the behest of “imported government” was trying to create fear among the masses through raids and arrests.

Speaking to media persons, Mr Mahmood claimed that police had arrested some 200 party workers from Lahore. He said party workers could not be browbeaten by state terrorism.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2023

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