Baloch demonstrators have ‘constitutional right’ to protest: IHC

IHC orders Islamabad IG to submit report tomorrow of number of Baloch protesters arrested, in judicial remand

This image shows Baloch marchers staging a sit-in in Islamabad on December 20, 2023. — X/@sommulbaloch
  • IHC CJ says: “Let them protest who have come to protest”.
  • Court seeks report on number of detained Baloch marchers. 
  • HRCP condemns violent police crackdown on protesters. 

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq Thursday warned the capital city’s top cop against any hindrance in the protest staged by the Baloch marchers, saying that they have the constitutional right of demonstration.

The remark came during the hearing of a case pertaining to the “illegal” arrests of Baloch long march participants in Islamabad.

Islamabad Inspector General (IG) Akbar Nasir Khan appeared before the IHC bench upon being summoned by the CJ after the court took up a plea against the arrest of Baloch protesters — earlier in the day.

The long march participants were detained by authorities during a demonstration in Islamabad against the enforced disappearances of Baloch missing persons. The march began in Turbat and was heading towards the Islamabad Press Club when the police intercepted them late Wednesday night.

An advance party of Baloch Yakjehti Council (BYC) Wednesday reached Islamabad through the Motorway, but the police intercepted it at Chungi No. 26 and barricaded all the main and artery roads, including Kashmir Avenue, leading to the Red Zone.

“Two groups of BYC arrived unscheduled Wednesday evening but the authorities deployed police to block the mob as their motorcade reach Chungi No. 26,” police sources said, adding that one group comprising about 50 protesters had joined the BYC protesters already sitting in front of the National Press Club, however, the remaining protesters who reached by busses were cut off at Chungi No. 26.

Police sources said the law enforcement agencies were trying to clear the blocked roads by forcing the protesters away from the main road.

Human rights lawyer Imaan Mazari represented the protesters in the plea filed by long march organisers Sami Baloch and Abdul Salam.

During the hearing, IG Khan informed the court that the protestors had clubs and also pelted stones which resulted in injuries to some people.

He also apprised the CJ that the government has also formed a committee to address the grievances of the protesters.

At this, CJ Farooq said that the court doesn’t have the matter of the committee in front of it. Instead, he asked about the status of 86 marchers, named in the petition, who were arrested during the protest.

Responding to the question, the cop informed the court that there was no detail available of the listed individuals.

“Let them protest who have come to protest, its their constitutional right,” CJ Farooq remarked.

The IG further stated that all the people nominated in the FIR registered at the Tarnol Police Station have been released, while those arrested in the FIR registered at Kohsar Police Station have been presented before the magistrate.

“Some have been discharged, some have been [remanded] into judicial [custody], and some have been kept for identity parade,” he added.

The IHC CJ then warned the IG against any one of his officers impeding the protests.

After that, the court adjourned the hearing while seeking a report regarding the number of people detained, remanded in judicial custody, and released, by tomorrow (December 22).

Earlier during the hearing, petitioners’ counsel Mazari told the court that force was used against the protesters, who were also baton-charged.

“Peaceful protesters were also detained, which is illegal,” Mazari said, adding that the protesters included women and children.


To address the grievances of the protesters who arrived in the capital city, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has also formed a five-member committee headed by Fawad Hasan Fawad, caretaker federal minister for privatisation, sources told Geo News.

The committee also comprises federal ministers Jamal Shah, Murtaza Solangi, Khalil George, and Aneeq Ahmed, the sources added.

PM Kakar has instructed the committee members to meet the protesters and find out their issues. He has also said that those who do not seriously violate the law will also be released.

Meanwhile, reacting to the use of force against the protesters, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan earlier in the day strongly condemned the violent police crackdown on Baloch protesters in Islamabad, with women, children, and the elderly subjected to unwarranted force in the form of water cannons and use of batons.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, the HRCP wrote: “Numerous women protesters have reportedly been arrested and separated from their male relatives and allies.”

The human rights body further stated that this treatment of Baloch citizens exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly is inexcusable.

“It also reflects how little the state thinks of the protesters’ demand that their right to life and liberty be upheld. All those detained must be released unconditionally,” it added.

The HRCP also said it urgently calls on the government to organise a delegation to meet the protesters and give their legitimate demands a fair hearing.

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