KARACHI, Jan 13: Police arrested over half a dozen human rights activists on Sunday when they were holding a vigil in solidarity with former acting chief justice Rana Bhagwandas outside his home.

Some 30 activists, including women, from different rights organisations gathered outside the house of Justice Bhagwandas in solidarity move only to meet a heavy contingent of police who arrested 10 of them and warned others to leave the place.

Police mobiles reached the place a few minutes after the civil started chanting slogans in support of the deposed judges. The 10-minute episode ended when streetlights were switched off and police managed to put 10 rights activists into the waiting mobile vans after a brief scuffle with women protesters.

Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed, son of Justice (retd) Sabihuddin Ahmed, Asad Umer, Kamran Noorani and Mohammad Yasir were among those arrested.

Later, a large number of supporters and family members of the detained activists gathered outside the Darakhshan police station, but they were denied access to the arrested activists.

The police authorities termed the gathering outside the former judge house an ‘unlawful act’ which posed ‘serious threats’ to law and order.

“They (arrested activists) will be booked under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code,” said Asif Ejaz, SP Clifton. “We first warned them, but finally moved to keep situation under control. The activists violated the regulations and we had no other option.”

Earlier, Justice Bhagwandas dismissed the authorities’ claim that he was free to move and that deployment of police outside his residence was for his own security.

“There is no legal definition of protective custody,” he told Dawn. “They (police officials) have not produced any formal order or document to prove that I am restricted to move, but facts on grounds are different from the claims made by the authorities.”

He condemned the government move.

“We have neither put him under house arrest nor has he been under protective custody,” said IG Sindh Azhar Ali Farooqi.

“He is free to move, but we have requested him to cooperate due to threats to his life. We are held responsible if anything happens to any prominent personality and the measures taken are preemptive and temporary.”

He said Justice Bhagwandas had been offered foolproof security in the wake of recent terrorist activities and it should not be considered as house arrest or detention.

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