HRCP decries cases against tenants
LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Wednesday expressed its concern at registration of cases in Khanewal district against scores of tenants under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
In a statement, the commission said while the administration had largely refrained from using force to prevent the tenants’ march elsewhere in Punjab, tenants in Khanewal district were baton-charged and faced tear-gas shelling and detention during their efforts to march to Lahore and hundreds were booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
HRCP said it was not in a position to determine what cause, if any, the tenants had given for the use of force by a police contingent blocking a key highway in Khanewal. However, the commission acknowledged that at least some policemen were also injured in addition to scores of tenants, including women and children, when police beat the marchers with batons and used tear-gas shells to disperse them.
The commission said such use of force against unarmed tenants was uncalled for when the police had already blocked the road by placing containers on it.
Scores of motorbikes and other vehicles used by the marchers travelling to Lahore were also damaged in the police action or were in police custody. HRCP expressed concern at the use of force to prevent the tenants from marching peacefully to press for their legitimate demands and registration of cases under the anti-terrorism law was utterly unwarranted.
The commission demanded that the authorities must immediately acknowledge detention of every tenant in custody, inform the family and the tenants’ organisations about the place of their detention and produce them in court at the earliest if there were any charges against them. All other tenants must be released forthwith, HRCP demanded.
The commission also noted that the police had established checkpoints outside villages of tenants and emphasised that the authorities should listen to the tenantsÂ’ demands and must desist from harassing them.
The tenants had participated in a march to Lahore on Monday to press for their demand for ownership rights of the land that they had been cultivating for decades.