PTM’s Dawar released, 23 others sent to Adiala Jail


RAWALPINDI: Judicial magistrate Mohammad Shoaib Akhtar on Wednesday sent 23 individuals to Adiala Jail, a day after they attended a protest outside Islamabad’s National Press Club against Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen’s arrest. On Tuesday, Islamabad police had arrested PTM leader and MNA Mohsin Dawar and 28 others from outside the press club where they had gathered to stage a protest against the arrest of Pashteen, who was arrested from Peshawar on Monday and shifted to Dera Ismail Khan in a sedition case pertaining to a speech he made in DI Khan on January 18. Following yesterday’s protest, a case was registered against 23 individuals by the Kohsar Police Station on various charges including sedition. Dawar was not included in the first information report (FIR). As per the FIR, the protesters had been informed that Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) was imposed in the Islamabad territory as a result of which five or more than five people are not allowed to gather. It stated, however, the protesters had chanted slogans against the Pakistan Army and the state and had chanted slogans in favour of Pashteen. They had also blocked a road. The 23 attendees of the protest were presented before the judicial magistrate in a local court in Islamabad today as the police requested judicial remand. During the proceedings, the 23 individuals’ lawyer Asad Jamal told the court that the protesters had not caused any destruction or posed any sort of resistance during the protest. He alleged that under pressure, the police had registered a case against the peaceful protesters. “The police case is based in bad faith. Sections 505- A (defaming army), 505-B (statements conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) [of the Pakistan Penal Code] do not apply,” he said, adding: “Police say that slogans were chanted against forces. Who was leading the chants? What evidence does the police have?” Jamal said the case should be discharged as peaceful protesters were arrested. Meanwhile, the police said they still have to make a challan and collect some evidence. Sending the 23 individuals to Adiala Jail, the judicial magistrate ordered that they be presented again on February 12. Earlier on Wednesday morning, Dawar had confirmed that he had been released from jail and added that other protesters remained in custody. According to police sources, he was released because he had to appear before a court in Abbottabad today in connection with a case regarding the Kharqamar clash. In a post on Twitter, Dawar said the PTM was protesting against the arrest of Pashteen during which they were arrested. “There wasn’t a single report of violence by protesters from around the world. I attended the protest in Islamabad and the protesters here were as peaceful as in the other places,” he said. In a subsequent tweet, he added: “However, the state reminded us once again that our rights don’t mean much as they didn’t bother to create even flimsy grounds for our arrests. I was dragged along with other comrades of PTM and [Awami Workers Party] AWP including Ismat Shahjahan, Ammar Rashid and many others.” The MNA said that following the arrests they were distributed to various police stations.