Lawyers Mobbed by Punjab Police

whiteband_v20_m.jpgReported by: Rai Muhammad Saleh Azam

The All Pakistan Lawyers Convention was held under the auspices of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), attended by approximately 3,000 lawyers, some political leaders, NGOs and even some students and faculty members from LUMS.

The Convention commenced at 10:00 a.m. at the Karachi Shuhada Hall of the LHCBA and the LHCBA Courtyard, both packed to capacity. The plan was that, after the convention, the lawyers would take out a peaceful procession to the Punjab Assembly and back. At about 11:00 a.m., lawyers started to march out from the LHCBA courtyard and towards the GPO Gate of the Lahore High Court (LHC). They were still in the precincts of the LHC parking lot when the police, without provocation, started teargassing the lawyers. Teargass shells were fired indiscriminately into the crowds, injuring dozens of people and temporarily incapacitating hundreds. Teargas cannisters were falling even inside the courtyard of the LHCBA.

Apparently, the entire Lahore High Court had been encircled by hundreds of riot police in full riot gear and with special riot control armoured cars with mounted teargas launchers. All the gates had been chained and barbed wire placed on all the gates. The 3,000 or so lawyers were trapped inside the Lahore High Court complex.

The lawyers, then attempted to leave from the other end, the Fane Road Gate of the Lahore High Court. This too was blocked. Then suddenly all hell broke loose with teargas cannister being launched into the LHC complex from all sides. For 3 long hours, the siege continued with teargas cannisters being fired into the LHC Complex at regular intervals. Each time the lawyers attempted to approach any gate, they were teargassed indiscriminately. One police cannister hit a lawyer’s car parked in the LHC parking area, and completely set fire to it.

The lawyers then started grabbing the still smoking teargass cannisters and throwing them back into the riot police from where they came. It looked less like the Lahore High Court and more like the Gaza Strip. Some lawyers and police also began exchanging bricks. A group of labourers working on the new LHC extension across Fane Road, not wanting to miss the action, also started throwing bricks at the Police from atop under-construction building. A group of policemen then went up and thrashed the labourers. Police also entered into nearby lawyers’ offices on Turner Road and ransacked the offices.

The Lahore High Court was under siege and under attack for 3 hours. The police indiscriminately fired teargas cannisters into the LHC, which also damaged some parts of the LHC Building. The police had no regard for the sanctity of the Lahore High Court and its over 100-year old building, which is a provincial high court, a part of the superior judiciary and a part of Pakistan’s heritage.

At around 2:00 p.m., after getting orders from above (reportedly on the intervention of some High Court judges), the police backed off. The lawyers then marched out of the LHC complex and had a peaceful sit-in on GPO Chowk, which lasted about an hour. This proved that the lawyers were no threat to the peace and would have peacefully protested had they been allowed to go out in the first place.

Once again, the Punjab Police has shown its high-handedness and needless and excessive use of force to prevent lawyers from exercising their right to freedom of assembly and peaceful protest, a right which is guaranteed to all citizens of Pakistan by the Constitution.



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8 responses to “Lawyers Mobbed by Punjab Police”

  1. Asad Asif Avatar

    I was in Lahore that day and passed in front of the high courts while on my way to GCU. I saw policemen resting under the tree shade in a park adjacent to the high courts. They wore riot armour and had other stuff but they were just sitting on the grass talking and resting. I saw no sign of what you have posted. From what I saw and where I stand, you have presented a highly exaggerated account of the events.

    I heard other people saying that the road was blocked for some time that morning but was opened soon.

  2. Teeth Maestro Avatar

    Well, the looks of what we see in the video says a lot of the actual events, and this has been reported all over and we are not the first and only one reporting this

  3. Maharaja Sindh Avatar
    Maharaja Sindh

    the camera doens’t lie

  4. R.M.S. Azam Avatar
    R.M.S. Azam

    In response to Asad Asif’s comments:

    1. See the pictures in the media that were aired yesterday – GEO NEWS, ARYONE WORLD, etc.

    2. See the newspaper pictures today.

    3. The crux of the protest took place between 11:00 am and 2:00 p.m. Did you pass by at this time. Because before 11:00 am and after 3:00 pm it was completely peaceful.

    4. The ‘Acting Chief’ Justice of Pakistan, Justice Javaid Iqbal took suo moto notice of the police high handedness today at the Lahore High Court and ordered a stop to the police action, which was followed at 2:00 p.m.

    So I stand by my statement, which does not have an ounce of exagerration. Someone correctly pointed out, “the camera does not lie.”

  5. MB Avatar

    I mean, whats the point here.

    Its simple & plain to understand that whateva happened came on TV.

    The camera doesn’t lie, simple

    Why even one need to say that he/she was there & nothing of that sort happened. Its very easy to figure out whom to trust here,unless there is a difference in timmings.

  6. Asad Asif Avatar

    @ Maharaja Sindh:

    Ever heard of fabricated evidence or anything similar? The camera can lie as easily as any human being.

    @ R.M.S. Azam:

    I passed the place just after 11AM. By the time I left GCU at 4:30-ish, it was still quiet. Obviously, I didn’t knew whatever happened in between that time. Geo has been victimising itself too.

    As far as I am concerned, there is not one single entity in the whole country upon whom I can place my trust with regards to the matter of this Musharraf, Iftikhar Choudhary episode.

  7. asad ali Avatar
    asad ali

    i was standing near the high court and could see policemen beating the lawyers like they were common criminals.i even remember recognising a sub inspector khalid baig and a dsp mukhtar shah.if the laywers r treated like this what protection does a common man has.i hope the next government will prevent the police from breaking the law.

  8. dukhi hussain Avatar
    dukhi hussain

    f*ck the punjab police and those in favor