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Upholding the Right to Protest: Islamabad High Court Steps in to Protect Baloch Demonstrators

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In a landmark decision, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday intervened to protect the rights of Baloch protestors facing continuous harassment and potential eviction from their protest camp outside the National Press Club. Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued firm orders, safeguarding the right to peaceful assembly and expressing discontent against alleged injustices.

Stop the Harassment: The IHC explicitly condemned the harassment of Baloch protestors and demanded an end to such practices. This strong stance sends a clear message that peaceful dissent will not be silenced through intimidation or coercion.

Accountability Demanded: The Deputy Commissioner and SSP Operations were summoned in person to appear before the court on January 5th. This direct action underscores the IHC’s commitment to holding officials accountable for any potential violation of fundamental rights.

No Bar on Protests: Earlier, Chief Justice Aamir Farooq had unequivocally stated that there is no legal restriction on peaceful protests within the framework of the Constitution. The court’s unwavering position on this matter serves as a crucial reminder of the democratic right to express dissent.

Addressing Grievances: The court recognized the underlying grievances motivating the Baloch protestors, namely the alleged arrest of their relatives. This acknowledgment fosters a sense of understanding and paves the way for potential dialogue and resolution of the underlying issues.

No Child or Woman Detained: Addressing concerns raised by the protestors, the Islamabad IGP clarified that no children or women were in police custody. This clarification helps alleviate anxieties and maintain transparency in the ongoing situation.

Legal Proceedings and Representation: The arrested protestors, including activist Mahrang Baloch, were presented in the District and Sessions Court. This ensures due legal process and access to representation, safeguarding their fundamental rights as individuals.

Rejecting Remand: The court’s rejection of the police request for physical remand of certain protestors serves as a vital check against arbitrary detention. This reinforces the principle of judicial oversight and protects individual liberties.

The IHC’s intervention in this case signifies a significant step towards upholding the right to peaceful protest and addressing the concerns of marginalized communities. The court’s firm stance sends a strong message to authorities, highlighting the importance of respecting fundamental rights and fostering dialogue to resolve grievances. As the situation unfolds, it is crucial to remain vigilant and ensure the continued protection of the right to peaceful assembly in Pakistan.

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