LAHORE, April 3: The Rangers and police "illegally"
picked up two leaders and two workers of the Anjuman-i-Mazareen
Punjab here on Wednesday, claimed Farooq Tariq of the Pakistan
Labour Party at a press conference here on Thursday.
The arrested Anjuman leaders, chairman Younas Iqbal and
secretary-general Christopher John, and workers Sajid Baloch and
Fahim Ahmad were said to be on their way to a meeting with Mr
Tariq, when law-enforcement agents intercepted their car (LXZ
3505) and took them away.
The Labour Party has filed a petition for habeas corpus with the
High Court in this regard.
Mr Tariq, flanked by Shah Taj of the Joint Action Committee,
Tehseen Ahmad of South Asia Partnership (SAP) and some AMP
leaders, told journalists that since the wheat-ripening period was
fast approaching, the Rangers had started terrorising the tenants.
The AMP planned to hold a convention on the Okara military farms
on April 7, which was to be participated in by ARD leaders like
Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan, Naheed Khan of the PPP and Saad Rafiq of
the PML-N. The law-enforcement agents might have kidnapped the AMP
leadership for pressurising it into abandoning the plan, he said,
adding that the convention would be held come what may.
Mr Tehseen was of the view that the agencies had become
dangerously uncivilised following the induction of the so-called
civilian government. He added: "The rulers must allow people to
decide their future, because the decisions of the so-called
leadership have brought only misfortune and impoverishment to the
Ms Taj claimed that the country belonged to agencies and the Army.
It was time for the civil society organizations to put a stop to
the trend before it gets too late. Some hands in the government
have reportedly decided to make representatives of the civil
society fall into line and they may apply further pressure in near
future, she added.
Aqila Naz of the AMP said that the government would not be able to
break their resolve, even if it arrested the entire membership of
the AMP. She said that a protest movement would be launched in
Okara and Khanewal from Friday.
A weeping Munawer Bibi offered to court arrest saying that if "our
sons have to be treated like this, mothers have no right to be out
of jail". She added: "Put us behind bars to reduce our guilt and
sense of helplessness in the face of state oppression."
Our Correspondent in Multan adds: Families of the four activists
are concerned about their safety.
Talking to newsmen here on Thursday, Mrs Christopher John said her
husband had been receiving threats from the Rangers prior to his
In a press statement, Khanewal AMP president Mehr Ghulam Abbas
demanded release of the tenants' leaders within 24 hours, or the
AMP would launch a province-wide protest campaign. "Ours is a
peaceful movement aimed at getting ownership of land that we have
been cultivating as tenants for nearly a century," he added.
The Justice and Peace Commission has also condemned the
'kidnapping' of AMP leaders and termed it a "cowardly" attempt to
foil the Okara convention.
In a statement, JPC chairperson Sister Morris Nawab condemned the
Rangers' excesses against poor tenants on the state farms. She
urged the government to set up a commission to conduct an
impartial inquiry into the Rangers' atrocities.
She assured the tenants of complete JPC support. Demanding
immediate release of the 'kidnapped' AMP leaders, she urged Chief
Minister Pervez Elahi to ensure their safety.
Labour Party Pakistan
40-Abbot Road Lahore, Pakistan
Tel: 92 42 6315162 Fax: 92 42 6301685
Mobile: 92 300 8411945