As if bad news has become our national lot; it comes in quick succession, quite often generated by situations that otherwise appear to be so much amenable to a peaceful resolutions. The latest in that stream is the murder of two lawyers of Daska at the hands of a local police officer, which soon sparked province-wide anger, and at some places violent protests.
What led to this tragic happening, the task is being assigned to a judicial inquiry and a joint investigation team (JIT), announced by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif within hours of the incident. A kind of graphic scene has been portrayed by the Daska-based media as to what triggered the deadly clash. According to it, the refusal by the local Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) to attest a lawyer’s nikahnama – saying this was beyond its jurisdiction – was contested by the applicant.
The disagreement between the two sides soon turned into a scuffle between the TMA staff and members of the local bar; and police were called in. There was an exchange of hot words between lawyers and police. The brawl led to the murders of two lawyers by a policeman who happened to be the Station House Officer of that area.
Accepted, in the plains of Punjab the summer heat raises tempers, but that is generally among the villagers working on farms and not at an important urban centre and among the sections of society that are expected to help strengthen tranquillity and harmony among the general public. Something of that nature happened at Model Town, Lahore last year in which about a dozen of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) supporters were killed in clashes with police.
The government lost no time in setting up a joint investigation team, whose verdict has been rejected by the aggrieved party and criticised by the mainstream media. In this particular case, lawyers’ community being an aggrieved party it should be invited to join the investigation. And it should not take as long as it did in the case of the Model Town killings.
And in the meanwhile, it is important that the nation as a body politic should undertake a thorough appraisal as to how come three sides to the Daska killings – TMA staff, lawyers and police – did not, or could not, exercise restraint expected of them. On the face of it, it is difficult to believe that a lawyer should have insisted on getting something that TMA office didn’t have. You don’t go to a butcher’s shop to buy cigarettes – the said lawyer had gone to TMA office to get what it generally and routinely offered. But we also know how difficult, and costly, is to get from a municipal, or from a revenue officer, what they should serve as their duty.
The TMA staff says “the protesting lawyers beat up some of their colleagues … also hurled stones and abuses at the police and challenged them (police) to shoot them if they had the courage to do so”. They might have, given the fact that angry protestors sometime bare their chests and challenge the police. But it is not expected of the police to shoot to death the agitated protestors. There is a whole regime of rules that spells out the conditions only under which the police are allowed to fire at protestors. Definitely not in the manner the Daska police officers killed the Daska bar president Rana Khalid Abbas, fellow lawyer Irfan Chohan and wounded two others.
But what happened after the Daska shooting in that city and beyond in many towns and cities was expected as a natural reaction. That the members of lawyers’ community lead violent protests resulting in extensive carnage and social disorder is quite frustrating.
Being a law-conscious segment of society it doesn’t behoove the lawyers to go on the rampage instead of ventilating their anger through legal channels. Frankly speaking, of late one is a witness to quite a few scenes, some in the court premises, showing these men in black coats scuffling either with police personnel or the media persons.
And to this trio – TMA, lawyers and police – there is one more party to the case which earns out of their clashes nothing but despair and depression. That party is people who seek justice through the courts, and when lawyers go on strike the hearings of their cases are put off, some time indefinitely. Why there is none to speak for them?
The Text has been appeared in the Editorial of Business Recorder Today !!