ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI, Nov 7: Police baton charged protest rallies of lawyers, civil society members and students and arrested a dozen, including president of Lahore High Court Bar Association during protests in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Wednesday.
The lawyers boycotted district and sessions court and staged protest rallies twice at District and Sessions Courts at F-8 Markaz against the imposition of emergency and removal of superior court judges.
The crowded lower courts of Islamabad wore a deserted look.
No case could be taken up for hearing at the lower courts for the third consecutive day on Wednesday.
About 700-800 lawyers of lower courts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi gathered at the parking area of District and Sessions Courts at around 11am.
They also staged a rally and marched in the courts’ compound, chanted anti-government and anti-Musharraf slogans. After an hour protest they dispersed peacefully.
Later, more than 200 students of colleges and representatives of civil societies joined the lawyers and brought out another rally.
During the rallies the protesters tried to break the security line of police to move to the adjacent roads of F-8 Markaz but the police pushed them back.
The courts are still under the siege of Islamabad police and Punjab Constabulary. They have erected iron barricades and barbed wires around it to restrict the protesters within the courts.
Five lawyers were arrested from different parts of Rawalpindi while three from Islamabad.
Lawyers held protest demonstrations at different places in Rawalpindi while district and high courts remained no go areas for the common man on the third consecutive day.
Unlike the first two days after the proclamation of emergency, lawyers played hide and seek with the law enforcers in the city. As many as 100 lawyers, mostly young, first gathered at Adiala Road near district courts at 9am and chanted anti- government and anti-PCO slogans. As soon as police approached them, they vanished into the nearby streets on motorbikes and cars.
Some 50 lawyers again turned up on Murree Road near Moti Mahal to protest against what they termed “unlawful step of the military dictator”. There they chanted slogans for 30 minutes and left the place on seeing the police. Yet again a group of lawyers appeared near Chandni Chowk at about 12pm to lodge their protest in opposition to the prevalent circumstances in the country. Later, they left for Islamabad, where they joined other protesting lawyers at district courts.
A lawyer while talking to Dawn on phone said they were ready to continue their agitation against the “unconstitutional” step of the regime despite all odds.
Meanwhile, judges present in the courts on Wednesday did nothing but to issue new hearing dates in different cases. Hearing of cases regarding Lal Masjid, attack on Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Taxila hospital blast were adjourned without any proceedings.
MURREE: Local lawyers boycotted court proceedings here on Wednesday.
People from various suburban areas faced troubles regarding the hearing of their cases as not a single lawyer appeared before a court. A heavy contingent of police was present outside Murree Kutchery.
Police raided the houses of lawyers and arrested senior lawyer Nazar Muhammad Abbasi.
Meanwhile, members of Murree Union of Journalists and the Murree Press Club have condemned the arrest of Raja Abdur Rehman, a senior local journalist. They vowed that if Mr Rehman was not released within 24 hours, they would launch a protest demonstration against the government.
GUJAR KHAN: Members of Gujar Khan Bar Association continued their boycott of local courts and remained away from the kutcheri. Lawyers Raja Hammed and Raja Zuilfiqar, arrested by the police, were sent to the Multal Jail while Iftikhar Hussain Qureshi, Yahya Faiz, Bilal Nasiri and Raja Tanveer Akhtar were reportedly held at different police stations.
TAXILA: Judicial work at the tehsil court complex remained paralysed for the third consecutive day as lawyers continued their strike against imposition of emergency on Wednesday.
The strike call was given by Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Punjab Bar Council (PBC).
Heavy contingent of police surrounded the court complex and did not allow the public and lawyers to enter the premises.
A large number of litigants whose cases were fixed for the day gathered outside the court complex and the law enforcers did not allow them to enter the premises. Only those persons whose cases were scheduled in the given list and whose lawyers were available were allowed entry.
The boycott of courts by the lawyers also created problems for the under-trail prisoners as their cases could not be taken up.
ATTOCK: Like others parts of the country, lawyers in Attock district also continued to boycott proceedings of courts for the third consecutive day on Wednesday to protest the imposition of emergency.
Barricades were erected on the entry points to the courts to thwart any eventuality besides heavy deployment of police and elite force in and around the lower courts, district kutchery, lawyers chambers and around offices of police and local administration.
On the other hand, District Bar Association said that police arrested three lawyers including president of the bar Rana Afsar Ali Khan. Office-bearers of the district bar and other lawyers have gone into hiding to avoid arrests. The buildings of district kutchery and lower courts were under virtual siege to restrict lawyers and other people protesting against the imposition of emergency. All Roads leading to the area were blocked with barricades and barbed wires.
Meanwhile, acting president of the district bar Sheikh Ahsanuddin has vowed to continue struggle for the supremacy of the Constitution. He paid tribute to lawyers who had been rendering sacrifices in the ongoing movement.
In a press statement issued here on Wednesday, he condemned the use of force against judges, politicians, lawyers, rights activists and journalists urging the government to release Supreme Court Bar Association president Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir A Malik and other lawyers arrested throughout the country.
He strongly deplored the gagging of print and electronic media, saying that it was a proof of intolerant attitude of the government. He said that there was no justification of the imposition of emergency and suspension of the Constitution.
Additional reports by correspondents from Murree, Taxila, Gujar Khan and Attock.