An additional district and sessions judge has disposed of a petition from a representative of singers and dancers in Heera Mandi against police harassment on Wednesday by directing the police to continue taking measures to curb terrorism and telling the petitioners to “approach the competent forum” if they wanted to “legalise” their business.
Petitioner Mirza Arif Hussain, president of the Shahi Mohalla Bazaar-i-Husn Dance and Music Association, had asked the court to direct the Tibbi City station house officer (SHO) not to interfere in their business. He said that though their business was not banned, the police treated them like their work was illegal.
The petitioner said that the association represented 234 families of Shahi Mohalla, many of whom included artists attached with radio and television and federal and provincial government programmes. He said that the song and dance practiced in the area were an integral part of Pakistani history and culture. The tradition had produced singers like Noor Jahan and Roshan Ara Begum. He said that singing and dancing was their only business and the association conducted its activities between 1:30pm and 1:00am.
He said that the Tibbi City SHO was harassing them and trying to force them out of work.
He said that this constituted a violation of the fundamental right to earn a living that the Constitution granted to every Pakistani. He asked the court to restrain the SHO from harassing them.
But in his ruling, Judge Chaudhry Nazir Ahmed said that according to a police report, the singers and dancers often entertained criminals in their establishments. The police had also reported terrorism concerns in the area, particularly after a series of five low-intensity explosions last year which damaged buildings.
The judge said that the petitioner appeared to be trying to get legal cover for their business, but the court was not the right forum for this. He told the petitioner to “approach the competent forum for getting permission for singing and dancing”. He said the association “cannot be allowed to establish dens”.
The judge also directed the police to take action to curb terrorist activities in the area.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2011.