Pak lawyers clash with police over torture claims

Groups of Pakistani lawyers fought pitched battles with police and assaulted journalists while protesting against alleged torture of their colleagues in Punjab`s provincial capital.

Last Updated: Oct 02, 2010, 17:34 PM IST

Lahore: Groups of Pakistani lawyers on Saturday
fought pitched battles with police and assaulted journalists
while protesting against alleged torture of their colleagues
in Punjab`s provincial capital.

The protest on a key thoroughfare in the eastern
Pakistani city prompted policemen to carry out a baton charge
and fire in the air to disperse lawyers who demanded action
against police officials allegedly responsible for torturing
their colleagues.

The lawyers claimed some members of the fraternity
were tortured after police took action for violent protests
seeking the transfer of a judge.

Today`s protest took an ugly turn when lawyers
gathered on the Mall Road attacked journalists and TV
cameramen covering the event.

Some media broadcast vans were damaged by the lawyers.
Following the incident, the media said it will boycott
events involving lawyers.

Dozens of lawyers and policemen were injured in the
clashes and police arrested over two dozen advocates.

Sources said the police were given a "free hand to
teach the lawyers a lesson" after they tried to storm the
office of the Lahore High Court`s Chief Justice earlier this
week to demand the transfer of a judge.

Dozens of lawyers, including women, were injured when
police entered their chambers and beat them severely
yesterday.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has
taken suo moto notice of the incident and sought notices from
the Punjab Home Secretary, Commissioner and District
Coordination Officer of Lahore and senior police officials.

Chaudhry directed them to appear before him on Monday
and explain the untoward incidents in which excessive force
was used against the lawyers.

"The use of excessive force and resorting to
high-handedness and brutality clearly violate the
constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.... Therefore,
the matter has been registered under Article 184(3) of the
Constitution," Chaudhry said.

PTI