Police arrest several lawyers protesting outside Lahore High Court

Lawyers staged protest against division of civil courts and terrorism cases against their colleagues

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Lawyers seen gathered around a police van in Lahore on May 8, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/Geo News Live
  • LHCBA denies negotiations with police following chaos.
  • DIG Operations says SHO, constable injured in protest.
  • Lawyers kick out petitioners from Justice Pannu's court.

LAHORE: Police arrested several lawyers as their protest at the GPO Chowk near Lahore High Court intensified on Wednesday.

The lawyers are demonstrating against the division of civil courts and terrorism cases against their colleagues.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association has denied conducting negotiations with the police.

On the other hand, lawyers have kicked out petitioners from the courtroom of Justice Anwar-ul-Haq Pannu.

Speaking with Geo News, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operations Faisal Kamran said the police will continue to show restraint, but will take action according to the law if there is a violation from the lawyers.

“The police are showing maximum patience and restraint,” he said, adding that the police only used tear gas after lawyers pelted stones at them.

“One of our SHO and one constable has been injured,” he said.

The DIG Operations said there are at least 2,000 personnel for the security of the high court.

DIG Operations Faisal has also reached the GPO Chowk for negotiations with the lawyers.

Lahore High Court Bar Association’s Munir Bhatti said the lawyers are demanding the rule of law in the country as well as the delivery of justice and an independent judiciary.

“We will see if there will be negotiations,” he said, demanding the withdrawal of notices of transfer of courts and seven Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) cases.

He also said that the lawyers will not go back to the high courts without holding a session of the general house.

The lawyers are seated on the steps of the Orange Line station at the location to avoid tear gas shelling by the police.

The metro bus station at the GPO Chowk has been closed, while traffic flow has been severely affected on Mall Road.

Earlier today, chaos ensued near the provincial high court after lawyers were baton-charged by the police.

The protesting lawyers tried to enter the high court by removing the barricades around its premises and threw stones at the police.

Meanwhile, the police baton charged and began shelling to disperse the lawyers and blocked their way to the court's main gate.

The police is also using water cannons to stop the lawyers from moving forward.

A heavy contingent of police has been deployed at judges' gate of Lahore High Court, while the police has also arrested two of the protesting lawyers.

Meanwhile, traffic flow at Mall Road and adjoining roads has also been severely affected.

At least two to three dozen lawyers are peacefully protesting outside the court, while the police have warned them against moving ahead. The police, however, said they will arrest if the lawyers use violence in the process.

The local administration was aware of the protest’s conduct a day earlier, while no one from the authorities arrived at the spot for talks with the lawyers.

The lawyers, on the other hand, are insistent to be allowed into the court’s premises and are chanting slogans against the police stopping them from entering.

Meanwhile, the judges and other lawyers are present inside the courtrooms, but no work is currently being done.

The protesting lawyers had planned to protest outside the LHC chief justice’s office, but police feared the lawyers might try to take law in their hands, hence it stopped them from entering inside the LHC's premises.

CM Maryam asks IG to refrain from using force

Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz has asked the inspector general of Punjab Police to "refrain from using force" against the lawyers, while she directed the protestors to resolve their issues with the Lahore High Court "amicably". 

"For the safety of the citizens of Lahore, confrontation should be avoided," appealed the CM. 

PBC calls for strike 

Reacting to the protests in Lahore, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has called for a strike against the police action against the lawyers. 

Ahsan Bhoon shared that lawyers across the country will boycott the courts tomorrow. He also added that rallies will be taken out across the country in solidarity with the lawyers in Lahore.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the lawyers maintained they have only two demands, stating that lawyers are not terrorists.

The lawyers' leadership said: “[We] will go on strike and issue a call for lawyers from all over the country to gather in Lahore.”

On the other hand, PBC vice chairman said this issue has been going on for a “long time”.

“A strike has been called for the entire day across Pakistan,” he said.

'GPO Chowk cleared of protesters'

DIG Operations Faisal said the police has dispersed the lawyers and won’t allow them to come together now. “The provocateurs are being detained.”

He also denied detaining Bhoon.

“GPO Chowk has been cleared of protesters, while the flow of traffic on Mall Road has also been restored and obstructions have been removed,” he said.

Karachi Bar Association to boycott courts tomorrow

Reacting to the events during the LHC protest, the Karachi Bar Association announced to boycott courts tomorrow (May 9). 

It condemned that the police "beat up" and shelled tear gas at the the peaceful protesters outside LHC.