The 23 activists had been protesting for the release of PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen when they were taken into custody
The Islamabad High Court on Monday granted bail to 23 activists who were detained last week for protesting the arrest of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen.
Hearing the case, IHC Chief Justice Ahar Minallah approved the bail and slammed the government for accusing the protesters of ‘sedition’ in the First Information Report filed against them by police. “How could you question someone’s patriotism? Do you think constitutional courts will shut their eyes on a matter like this?” he asked the deputy commissioner of Islamabad, as he gave the official a week to consult with the Islamabad Inspector General of Police and submit a report on the incident.
During the proceedings, the petitioners’ counsel questioned an order issued by an additional district and sessions court that had dismissed the post-arrest bail petitions of the detained activists, and sought to have their case be heard by an anti-terrorism court. Terming the district court’s decision a serious miscarriage of justice, the counsel said invoking sedition against unarmed peaceful citizens was misuse of authority.
The hearing was then adjourned until Feb. 10.
The FIR filed against the protesters—including Ammar Rashid, the Punjab president of the Awami Workers Party as well as several PTM workers—charged them under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 353 (assault on public servant), 147 (rioting), 149 (being member of unlawful assembly), 505-A (defaming Army), 505-B (public mischief), 124-A (sedition), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 186 (obstructing public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The detained activists were protesting the arrest of PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen, who was taken into custody in Peshawar on charges of incitement and sedition. He has been shifted to Dera Ismail Khan.