ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) intervened on Wednesday to prevent local authorities in the federal capital from forcefully harassing and removing Baloch protesters at the National Press Club. Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued directives during a hearing related to alleged harassment and the use of force against Baloch families protesting extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.
The court also mandated the in-person appearance of Islamabad’s deputy commissioner and senior superintendent police (SSP) Operations in the next hearing on January 5. The case was initiated based on a petition filed by Baloch activist Sammi Deen Baloch, represented by Ataullah Kundi Advocate.
Kundi informed the court that Baloch families staged a sit-in outside the National Press Club, with police arresting women and children. Although the court ordered their release, authorities attempted to disperse the sit-in by coercing women onto buses and engaging in continuous harassment, including seizing speakers.
Justice Kayani expressed concern about the situation and questioned whether the protesters were moving beyond their designated venue. He noted the historical significance of Shahra-e-Dastoor (Constitution Avenue) for hosting demonstrations and criticized the federal capital’s authorities for their handling of the situation.
Reprimanding the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) for its role, Justice Kayani observed a lack of interest in holding local government polls despite court orders. He directed authorities to refrain from forcefully removing the Baloch marchers and ordered the appearance of key officials in the next hearing, scheduled for January 5.
The Baloch march, which began on December 6, faced police crackdowns in Islamabad last month. The IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had previously emphasized the constitutional right to protest, warning against hindrances. Following court directives, protesters were released after negotiations with the caretaker government. The hearing is adjourned until January 5.