Aurat March organisers, DC agree on route for march after court’s orders


Lahore Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rafia Haider and organisers of the Aurat March on Tuesday agreed on a route for the March 8 rally after the Lahore High Court (LHC) told the two parties to sit down together and decide the matter.

Earlier today, the LHC — while hearing a plea challenging the district administration’s decision to not issue a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the rally — had asked the Aurat March organisers and the DC to sit together and finalise the location for the March 8 rally by 2pm.

Subsequently, the two parties informed the court that the march would be held from the Nadra Office, Shimla Pahari to Faletti’s Hotel. The court was also told that the march would be held between 2pm and 6pm.

The Aurat March organising committee had last month requested a NOC from the district administration to hold a rally on March 8 at Nasser Bagh, Lahore, followed by a march around the perimeter of the park.

However, DC Haider had rejected the plea citing “the current security scenario, threat alerts, and law and order situation, and in light of activities like controversial cards and banners for awareness of women’s rights and the strong reservation of the general public and religious organizations, especially JI’s (Jamaat-i-Islami) women’s and student wings, who had also announced a programme against the Aurat March.”

Subsequently, Aurat March organisers had submitted a petition to the LHC, under Article 199 (jurisdiction of high court) of the Constitution, with DC Haider, the Punjab government, Lahore’s capital city police officer and National Commission for Human Rights Punjab member Nadeem Ashraf as respondents.

During the previous proceedings, Justice Anwar Hussain had summoned DC Haider and Security Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Dost Muhammad in court on March 7.

As the hearing resumed today, the judge remarked that these matters were brought to court every time.

Meanwhile, the DC told the court that during a meeting of the District Intelligence Committee, it had emerged that the law and order situation in Lahore was not good.

She went on to say that this year Aurat March organiser had submitted a request to hold the rally at Nasser Bagh.

“PSL (Pakistan Super League) matches are also underway in the city because of which there is always movement of players and security is required,” she said.

Even in the second intelligence committee meeting, the official added, it was concluded that the security situation in Lahore was not good.

On the other hand, the public prosecutor suggested that the march could be held outside the Lahore Press Club.

“Then why are rallies and processions being held in the city?” Justice Hussain asked here. “When a political leader appears, the police become active.”

At that, the DC responded that a clash had taken place during last year’s Aurat March.

However, the judge interjected that the district administration could not stop the organiser from holding a rally in the city and declared the DC’s notification of not allowing the rally as invalid.

The court also observed that it was the responsibility of the administration to maintain peace and order. “At the same time, the Aurat March should also ensure that there is no chaos at the rally.”

Justice Hussain remarked that when political parties held rallies, they too sat with the district administration.

He then instructed Aurat March organisers to sit with the administration, finalise the venue for the rally and inform the court by 2pm.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned.