Two lawyers have been arrested in Jhang following Thursday’s clash between police and lawyers during a protest organised by the district bar association against the district police officer.
Those arrested have been identified as Qalandar Hussain Bhatti, a former member of the Punjab Bar Council, and Zafar Chaudhry, a member of the Jhang Bar Association.
The FIR registered by Kotwali police on Thursday night says more than 50 lawyers, including the district bar general secretary, attacked the DPO’s office, damaging two police vehicles and injuring several police officials. Besides the Anti-Terrorism Act, the FIR includes Sections 365 (kidnapping), 395 (robbery), 440 (trying to set fire to public buildings), 148/149 and 353 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Those nominated included DBA general secretary Aamir Noul, Zia Hussain Kazmi, Khizar Sultan, Allah Ditta Sandrana, Gohar Ali, Allah Ditta, Makhdoom Majeed Qureshi, Miqdad Haider Baloch, Ghazanfar Baloch, Shahid Jameel, Asad Raza Noul, Sufi Sanaullah Ranjha, Afzal Sargana, Zafar Chandia and Qalandar Bhatti.
The lawyers’ procession, led by Jhang Bar Association general secretary Amir Noul, had stopped on Thursday in front of the office of the district police officer, Farooq Mazhar Khan, to demand his transfer from the district. Police said that some lawyers tried to enter the DPO’s office. They said the lawyers who were later joined by more colleagues pelted the police with stones. They also vandalised two police vehicles, they said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, DBA general secretary Aamir Noul, however, rejected the suggestion that the lawyers had attacked the police. He said the protestors had wanted to enter the office to register their protest. Had the police let them enter, the confrontation could have been avoided, he added.
On Thurday, Noul had said at the rally that the protests would continue until the DPO was transferred. He said the police had first refused to register a case on complaint of a former bar president, Mahar Muhammad Afzal, over a month ago, and registered it after a delay of few days. He held DPO Khan responsible for the delay and demanded that he should be transferred from Jhang to avoid such situations in future. “Lawyers’ security will be at risk as long as the DPO remains in Jhang,” he said. A section of the Jhang Bar Association has been protesting for over a month to press for the demand.
Talking to media after the rally on Thursday, Jhang Bar Association president Shaikh Iftikhar Ahmed Qanooni said dissociated himself and other senior members of the association from the protest. He said such protests were uncalled-for as the theft case reported by Afzal had been registered.
Meanwhile, the Jhang chapters of the Prisoners’ Welfare Society and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have expressed concerns over the lawyers’ boycott of courts. In a statement issued on Friday HRCP’s Qamar Abbas Zaidi and PWS vice chairman Neelam Nasir said the boycott was causing undue delays in hearing of cases.
With additional reporting by our correspondent
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2011.