Lawyers ransack courts, DCO office
FAISALABAD, Feb 20: Hundreds of lawyers on Wednesday ransacked sessions courts and the DCO office and tried to rough up DCO Mohammad Amin during a protest campaign for the establishment of a Lahore High Court bench in Faisalabad.
Reports said the general house meeting of the bar was under way at the Kutchery Bazaar Chowk when a lawyer identified as Atif stood up and tried to commit self-immolation. His fellow lawyers foiled his bid.
The lawyer started shouting that they would not get the bench just by staging sit-ins. He said they had held a number of protests but the government did not bother to pay heed to their voice. He suggested that ‘callous’ behaviour of the government required locking of the courts and the government offices.
Over this, the lawyers let loose their indignation and rushed towards the courts.
First they ransacked the District Council canteen and then they moved inside the sessions courts. They broke windowpanes, computers and furniture of different courts.
Lawyers were angry with Sessions Judge Rasheed Qamar as he had asked the bar president through a letter on Feb 15 to refrain from locking the courts otherwise cases would be registered under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The judges and courts staff moved to safer places to avoid lawyers’ wrath.
The lawyers moved to the adjacent DCO office where they damaged the barriers and also broke windowpanes of the main entrance and the DCO office.
Some of the protesters also tried to manhandle the DCO, however, senior lawyers intervened.
The agitators encircled the DCO while some policemen shifted him from his office to a safe place.
Thereafter, the lawyers returned to the district council and enjoyed a feast amid announcement that now the legal fraternity would stage a sit-in for an indefinite period.
Lawyers are on strike since Feb 9 for the establishment of an LHC bench in Faisalabad. As part of their protest, they had locked the sessions court and the DCO office. The bar had toned down their protest for the last two days after an assurance by the DCO that he would arrange a meeting of lawyers with the chief minister.
Sessions Judge Rasheed Qamar told Dawn that sensing the situation LHC Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial had sent all judges of district courts on a two-day leave. He said leaves of judges might be extended.
He said only two magistrates would perform their duties to grant routine remands. “The magistrates will visit jails for this duty.”
He said judges were feeling insecure because of the current situation as some of the ‘rabble-rouser’ lawyers were trying to spoil the good relations between the bar and the bench.
He said cases would be registered against the troublemakers and they would be identified with the help of videos.
Police deployment in and outside the DCO office and courts was thin because the force had been sent to Toba Tek Singh for the protection of the gathering addressed by the chief minister.
Addressing the sit-in gathering, lawyers said they would continue with their protest till the establishment of the bench.