A full bench of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday restrained the Punjab police from arresting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers ahead of the ‘Azadi march’ on Thursday. The three-judge bench headed by Justice Mahmood Ahmad Bhatti passed the order on a petition filed by Advocate Hassan Awais and three others and summoned the inspector general of police and the capital city police officer today (Wednesday) at 9:30am.
The petitioner said police have been arresting PTI workers in order to prevent them from participating in the long march. Awais said all roads have been blocked across the province and PTI workers are being hindered in their movement towards Islamabad. He added that the free movement of citizens has also been affected by the blockades and this is a violation of fundamental rights.
Meanwhile, scores of PTI activists and supporters staged a sit-in at Kamoon Shaheed, Ghotki, on Tuesday in protest of the Punjab police’s blockade on entry in the province. A large number of private vehicles were also prevented from crossing the Sindh-Punjab border.
Rahim Yar Khan District Police Officer (DPO) Sohail Zafar Chatha, who was present at the site, claimed that Section 144 had been imposed in his district and he could, therefore, not allow the procession to cross into Punjab. He added that unarmed persons would be allowed across the border in groups of twos and threes.
The officer refused to budge even after the PTI Sindh president Sardar Nadir Akmal Leghari tried to convince him otherwise. A police official in Lahore said that high level meetings chaired separately by IGP Mushtaq Sukhera and CCPO Lahore Zulfiqar Hameed were held.
The official said the possibility of placing containers around Zaman Park was discussed but several senior officials opposed the idea.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th,2014.