- Activists, including lawyer Jibran Nasir, were arrested for protesting against police ‘protocol’ to ASWJ rally
- Police official says civil society activists scuffled with police, threw away barricades
Some 26 civil society activists were released from police custody late on Thursday on the intervention of Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah after they were arrested for “breaching the Chief Minister’s House security” earlier in the evening.
Lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir, along with over 25 other people, was arrested from the venue of the sit-in protest they had begun on Wednesday against the Shikarpur imambargah bombing that claimed the lives of 65 people and injured 50 others.
However, the focus of the protesters was shifted to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) when they got to know that the religio-militant outfit would be orchestrating a rally in the city.
Jibran had earlier posted a call to action on his Facebook page accompanied with pictures of the police force that was escorting the rally. “Police protocol at #ASWJ rally today. Our tax money for protection of our killers. Shame on the govt both Federal and Provincial. #ShikarpurBlastSitinat 6pm today at PIDC near CM House. No more negotiation and promises. Only #ArrestAurangzeb. He broke the law again today by taking out the rally. Govt is a joke,” he wrote.
He had only an hour before said post questioned the government’s ability to control banned outfits by posting pictures of the ASWJ flags and messages in the Lasbela area of Karachi. “Dear CM & IG Sindh this is your effectiveness. This is today in Lasbela Karachi. #ASWJ is banned. Are u fit to rule?” he questioned.
ASWJ has been banned as of February 15, 2012 in Pakistan. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Sharmila Farooqui had earlier confirmed that the group is currently banned.
“The rally organised by the ASWJ has been done so under the protection of the police,” said Jibran.
Superintendent of Police Asad Ali explained that the arrests were made after Jibran and his supporters tried to breach the gates of the Sindh Chief Minister House. Those arrested include women.
It is believed that as soon as the protest outside the CM House was announced, the ASWJ diverted their procession towards the same direction.
“ASWJ a banned outfit rally is heading towards CM House. Perhaps Sindh government may give more respect and attention to demands of terrorists,” Jibran tweeted.
Meanwhile, supporters took to the social media to express their outrage.
“Capirtal tv was giving negative reporting by saying its a small sect based group not members of civil society and they were trying to forcefuly entrer CM house!! stay safe and strong,” tweeted Zenobia Khan.
Another supporter complained about local media referring to the sit-in as against ‘target killing,’ adding that the media was fearful to the extent that they couldn’t even openly state that the protests were against ASWJ and sectarian killings.
Pakistan Today tried to reach out to ASWJ representatives but they were unavailable for comment. A source from within the group anonymously explained that the ASWJ had neither threatened Jibran or any members of the civil society, nor was any police protocol given to their rally.
DIG South Zone Khalique Shaikh meanwhile mirrored the statement given by SP Asad Ali saying that Jibran and his supporters were arrested after they began acting violently. The protesters, including Jibran, allegedly began stopping cars that were going by and got into a tussle with the authorities after trying to remove barricades that had been officially placed in the area.
Muzammal Afzal, who seems to be one of those arrested alongside Jibran, tweeted “We are arrested by police and we are at ferere thaana. Police nay him py dandon say hamla kia. We are here @MJibranNasir @intaffairs”.
Afzal seemed to be using a hidden phone and he even tweeted messages from Jibran himself, including, “’We have hidden this phone. We are inside. We want the law to be applied to us. Don’t free us on a ministers orders’ – @MJibranNasir”, and “If we can be arrested as per law why can’t aurangzeb be arrested. He broke the law today” – @MJibranNasir #ShikarpurBlastSitin”