Three cops suspended after scuffle with Aurat marchers – 09 Mar 2023

ISLAMABAD: Three police officers were suspended after cops used force against Aurat March participants on Wednesday, striking some of them with batons after a scuffle broke out between the two sides.

The low-ranking cops were suspended hours after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah took notice of the incident and summoned and scolded the Islamabad Police chief, Dawn has learnt.

A police spokesperson said the constables weresuspended on the charge of using batons on participants of Aurat March a public demonstration held annually in several cities to mark International Women`s Day that began from the National Press Club and ended at D-Chowk on the Constitution Avenue.

He said the police officers used force without any order from their high-ups, although he agreed that senior police and administration officials were present at the site when the incident took place at the starting point of the march.

According to the spokesperson, there was no specific reason for the police action. He did not comment on whether legal action would be taken against the suspended cops.

He said Islamabad Police had apologised over the incident and a report had been sought from the deputy inspector general for operations. He said the DIG had been asked to trace those responsible for using force against protesters and initiate action against them.

The interior minister also said in a Twitter post that the cops had been suspended.

He said `other persons responsible for misbehaviour` were also being identified and proper action would also be taken against them.

In an earlier tweet, Mr Sanaullah had vowed that `strict legal action` would be pursued against those responsible for the `mistreatment` of citizens participating in the march.

The minister said he had taken strict notice of the behaviour meted out to the participants of the march, adding that the Islamabad police chief had been summoned regarding the matter.

Earlier, the capital police blocked the road adjacent to the National Press Club by putting containers and barbed wire. A gathering of over 100 women and civil society activists reached the press club with huge loudspeakers mounted on a vehicle.

The police contingent deployed there intercepted the vehicle and asked the marchers to move forward without it. However, the participants defied the order,which led to some heated arguments between the police and the marchers.

During the verbal clash, both sides started pushing back each other and all of a sudden, some police officers resorted to striking some women participants with batons. Shortly after getting the information, the DIG operations and SSP operations reached the spot and managed to defuse the situation.

In the meantime, Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman also reached the venue. A scuffle broke out when the media and camera persons trying to interview Ms Rehman were stopped by some march participants.

However, the situation soon came under control after other participants and the police intervened.

Later, Aurat March moved towards the D-Chowk, from where they dispersed peacefully.

Meanwhile, a group of over 200 burqa-clad female students and teachers of Jamia Hafsa, some of them carrying sticks, also marched towards Express Chowk from the G-7 sector.

Similarly, Jamaat-i-Islami also carried out a rally from Aabpara to China Chowk, officials said, adding that the police also intercepted them near Polyclinic Hospital.

However, after negotiations, the participants were provided access to China Chowk.

The rally was addressed by JI chief Sirajul Haq.

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