To revolt is a natural tendency of life. Even a worm turns against the foot that crushes it. In general, the vitality and relative dignity of an animal can be measured by the intensity of its instinct to revolt.
Mikhail Bakunin

22 November 2007

The Black Sunday [ an eye witness' account from Lahore ]

The Black Sunday
by Bash!

November 4, 2007

On Sunday, November 4, 2007 a group of concerned citizens, including myself, held a meeting at the office of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Lahore. Around noon the number of individuals reached 60, which belonged to all age groups and included doctors, educationists, lawyers, human rights activists and representatives of NGOs. The discussion of the group in large part aimed at finding out the causes behind political chaos in Pakistan and measures to restore the judiciary which had been sacked by General Musharaf.

Two hours after the meeting started, police knocked at the door of our hall. After a little bit of questioning, police was allowed to come in and they were clearly told that the entire group was only having a discussion and did not have any intention to go out on the street to protest or to engage in any such activity. To our utter surprise, the police, headed by a Superintendent of Police (named Ali), insisted that we should go with them to a place they were not ready to disclose. After a few more dialogues, the police said that men will have to come along and women could be spared. Women simply declined to agree to this. Resultantly, the entire group, excluding Dr. Mubashar Hassan (left out due to his old age and deteriorating health) was taken to Model Town Police Station. Although the policemen did not treat any of the detainees harshly, they managed to keep things uncertain for us as much as possible. By 9 p.m. we were told that a criminal case (FIR) had been registered against us this confirmed our fear that we were not going to be released soon. We were not shown any paper containing the charges which were levelled against us. The rumours which surrounded included various possibilities including 90 days detention in some southern or northern Punjab jail. During all this time various policemen and some people in ordinary clothes kept making various lists of the detainees names, their home addresses and contact numbers. Quite evidently the non-policemen belonged to intelligence agencies who would now like to keep a check on us for the rest of our lives.

In the late evening the news broke out that members of civil society were holding a candle light vigil in front of the police station for our release and our names had already been released to media in Pakistan and abroad.

Around midnight we got the news that we were being shifted to three sub-jails, two for (24) women and one for (31) men detainees. It took us four hours to reach the sub-jails which were in fact private houses in Gulberg (Lahore) owned by extremely courteous hosts. While we were leaving the police station (at 4 a.m.) for going to the sub-jail, for each person whose name was called out for getting on the prisoners bus, there were people around to applaud.

The following morning we started receiving reports of protests and the brutal show of aggression by the police and intelligence agencies against the lawyers who protested at the Lahore High Court premises against the dismissal of judges of the Superior Courts. On the same day, we were taken to the court of Magistrate for filing applications for release on bail. On that day our lawyers (working pro-bono on our behalf) could only manage to file the bail application and get the case adjourned for Tuesday. From the court, we were taken to Kot Lakhpat Prison (Lahore). However, a few hours later once again we were shifted to the sub-jails in Gulberg. From the time we left the court until the following morning, the huge possibility of our bail being refused kept haunting us. Incidents of lawyers being beaten so badly by the police and the intelligence agencies in plain clothes made us think that our detention would prolong. Here I would like to point out that all the offences for which we were charged were bailable except for one. On merit, we had a good case in our favour, but it was not about merit. It depended on the government’s policy.

On Tuesday, November 6, 2007 to our utter surprise our bail orders were passed by the court of Magistrate. By evening our hopes of being free again got dimmed due to some procedural hitches in filing of bail bonds in the Court. Besides this, at no point of time we could rule out the possibility of getting arrested for another charge as soon as we stepped out of the sub-jail. None of the members of the group can rule out this possibility even now. In the evening, we were taken by another surprise when somebody informed that policemen who were guarding the sub-jail had left. Some of us completely refused to leave as this could give the government a fresh ground (of escaping from the prison) for our re-arrest. After a couple of hours at around 9 p.m. an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Model Town Police Station appeared and told us police had received orders (from the quarters not to be named) to withdraw from the sub-jail and set us free.

The FIR (Registration of a Charge at a Police Station)

According to the police report which formed the basis of our arrest and registration of criminal case, members of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan were holding a protest rally in front of HRCP office and were raising slogans against the government. Police reached there on time and asked the crowd to disperse peacefully, but to no avail. The entire crowd kept raising slogans against the government and ran inside the office. Police followed and arrested all the protestors from inside the building of HRCP.


Over a dozen members of our group were above 60 years of age.

The writer is a lawyer and a human rights activist. He has now been released from prison.

1 comment:

Renato de Trindade said...

Hi Friends! I admit that I don't understand all the words here, but I can see It's a great work! Congratulations! Sorry, my english is not very good. Keep it up and all the best! Greetings from Brazil. Your friend from Blogging to Fame, Renato de Trindade