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Black coats face off brute force

November 06, 2007

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LAHORE, Nov 5: Police and personnel of law-enforcement agencies on Monday arrested hundreds of lawyers protesting across the country against the imposition of a state of emergency and removal of superior court judges.

Police used teargas and baton when lawyers tried to break through a cordon outside the main gate of the Lahore High Court.

Dozens of lawyers, including Justice (retd) Fakharun Nisa Khokar, were injured.

Earlier, lawyers showered rose petals in front of the locked courtrooms of the judges who refused to take the oath under the PCO.

In Islamabad, law-enforcement personnel cordoned off the Judicial Colony to restrict the movement of the sacked chief justice and several other judges, which led to a protest demonstration.

Personnel of Islamabad Police, Punjab Constabulary and Elite Force were deployed in and around the colony to restrict judges’ movement.

Roads leading to the Supreme Court were also cordoned off.

Over 30 lawyers of the Supreme Court and District and Sessions Courts were arrested. Included among them were office-bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association -- vice-presidents Saqi Sultan and Ghulam Nabi Bhati, secretary Mohammad Amin Javad, additional secretary Abdul Rasheed Awan and executive members Rashid Awan and Jhanzaib Jadoon.

In Karachi, lawyers boycotted court proceedings. Police baton-charged a group of lawyers demonstrating at the City Courts. A large number of senior lawyers and politicians were detained in various parts of the city. National Party secretary-general Mir Hasil Khan Bizinjo and National Workers Party secretary-general Yousaf Masti Khan were arrested, along with five journalists from a protest demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club.

A group of SHC judges, who had refused to take the oath under the PCO, tried to enter SHC premises, but they were stopped by police outside the gates.

Over 45 protesting lawyers were picked up from the SHC premises. Prominent among them were Shafi Mohammadi, former judge of the Federal Shariat Court; Salahuddin Ahmed, son of the relieved chief justice of SHC Sabihuddin Ahmed; Najeeb Jamali, son of Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali; and Zahid Ebrahim, son of senior lawyer Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim.

Police entered the SHC premises and used teargas and baton to disperse lawyers rallying outside the clients’ cafeteria at the SHC.

A number of lawyers and some media personnel were injured.

There were no proceedings in the court as lawyers boycotted cases before the 13 judges who had taken the oath under the PCO.

Police also arrested Karachi Bar Association president Iftikhar Javed Qazi, Mazdoor Kissan Party joint-secretary Advocate S.M. Altaf and advocate Naheed Afzal.

In Rawalpindi, police had erected barricades on all roads leading to district and high courts and arrested many lawyers who tried to enter the court premises.

Police stood guard at all entrances of district courts and the Lahore High Court and only court officials were allowed to enter.

A district court clerk said many court officials also were not allowed to go inside the courts where judges were present without litigants and lawyers.

Police did not bring under-trail prisoners to the courts.

Barriers were erected on the Mall, Mayo, Airport and GT roads near the high court.

A number of lawyers gathered at a barrier near FJWU at 10am and tried to break through the hurdle, but they were baton-charged and many of them were arrested. Police also beat some cameramen and snatched their cameras.

Police sources said that 40 lawyers had been arrested, but the lawyers’ community claimed that over 90 lawyers, including women, had been detained.

Talking to reporters, LHC Bar Association president Sardar Asmatullah and senior lawyer Sardar Ishaq Khan said that lawyers were determined to fight against the unconstitutional step of Gen Musharraf and would continue their struggle for the independence of the judiciary.

They said the dictator had attacked the judiciary and the imposition of emergency deprived the people of their rights.

In Faisalabad police arrested more than 70 lawyers and sealed the press club.

Hundreds of lawyers were also detained in Gujranwala, Sialkot, Daska, Jaranwala and Kasur.

In Peshawar, lawyers boycotted court proceedings in protest against the arrest of their colleagues. They locked courtrooms No 1 and 2 of the Peshawar High Court.

“We have decided that the boycott of the subordinate judiciary would continue for a week and that of the high court for an indefinite period,” said Abdul Raziq Khan, senior member of the action committee constituted by lawyers. Some office-bearers of the PHC and Peshawar District Bar Associations were arrested and many others went into hiding.

Qazi Muhamamd Anwer, chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council’s executive committee, was detained at his home in Hayatabad after he returned from Islamabad on Monday evening. PHCBA secretary-general Ishtiaq Ibrahim, who was arrested on Sunday night, was sent to the Haripur central jail.

Other lawyers arrested included Barrister Bachaa, Behlol Khattak, Hidayatullah Afridi, Ishaq Khalil, Wali Khan Afridi, Abbas Khan Sangeen, Shahabuddin Khattak and Ameenur Rehman.

PHCBA president Abdul Lateef Afridi, vice-president Mian Abdul Fayyaz, PDBA president Maulana Shamsul Mulk, Muslim Lawyers Forum provincial president Sattar Khan are reported to have gone underground.

Police arrested Jamaat-i-Islami district chief Dr Iqbal Khalil and former MNA Shabir Ahmad Khan. Jamaat workers staged a demonstration at Chowk Yadgar.

Police were deployed in various localities of the city to thwart political rallies and demonstrations. Sources said that police had arrested over two dozens workers of different political parties in Peshawar since Sunday. Protest rallies were also taken out in Swabi and Mardan.

In Quetta, about a dozen lawyers were arrested after they held a rally.

The Balochistan Bar Association and the BHC Bar Association have decided to continue boycott of the courts and said that lawyers would not appear before the judges who had taken the oath under the PCO.

Six journalists were arrested when they were covering a strike observed by the business community. However, they were released in the afternoon.

In Murree, police arrested three lawyers. They are Raja Abdur Rehman, Imran Abbasi and Kamran.

Members of the Murree Bar Association held a demonstration outside the Murree kachery.

In Hyderabad, police picked up more than 57 lawyers and 30 leaders and activists of opposition parties during a province-wide crackdown.

A spokesman for the Sindh National Front claimed that 150 of its activists had been arrested. The Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz said that police had detained more than 1,000 of its workers during raids on their homes.