The organisers of Peshawar’s first ever women’s bicycle rally cancelled the event on Friday amidst threats posed by religious parties against what they termed as an event meant to “spread obscenity”, according to reports.
The ‘peace rally’, organised by women’s rights organisation Zama Jawandoon, was scheduled for January 19 and at least 35 women were set to participate in the event. Members of the transgender community were also invited to join the rally.
However, religious parties, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), threatened to protest against the rally for “spreading obscenity”. Reportedly, JUI-F leader Maulana Rafiullah Qasmi, in a meeting on Thursday, announced that all relevant departments would be contacted for the cancellation of the event and if the event is not cancelled, they would hold a protest demonstration against it. Amidst the threats from religious parties, the organisers decided to cancel the event.
Speaking to a private news channel, lead organiser, Wafa Wazir, said that they had obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) from Peshawar district administration before announcing the rally and the only reason why they postponed the event is because they did not want it to take place in a state of unrest and amidst protest demonstrations.
Reportedly, the police said that they were not approached for a NOC or for seeking security and when they had contacted the organisers after being informed of planned protests, they were informed that the rally had been postponed. The police said that the organisers must obtain police clearance as it is their responsibility to provide security to any such events. The police denied receiving any directions from the district administration or any other department for the provision of security to the event.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) sports directorate also issued a statement, stating that it was unaware of any such event and the Hayatabad Sports Complex was not being provided to any organisation for holding any such rally.