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Monday, June 24, 2024  
17 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Aurat March to go ahead in Lahore, court rules

March will be held from Nadra Office, Shimla Pahari to Faletti’s Hotel
File Photo/AFP
File Photo/AFP

The Lahore High Court has permitted Aurat March organizers to go ahead with their rally as planned and it declared the Deputy Commissioner’s refusal invalid.

The deputy commissioner had refused to grant them permission to march.

The court instructed the district administration to facilitate the Aurat March Lahore on March 8.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court had instructed Lahore Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider and Aurat March organizers to sit together to finalize by 2pm a new route for the rally.

Both parties told the court that the rally will now be held from the Nadra Office, Shimla Pahari to Faletti’s Hotel from 12pm to 6pm on March 8, International Women’s Day.

The court allowed the march on three conditions:

• The Aurat March organizers will not upload any controversial statements on to their social media accounts.

• No actions during the march can be against the Constitution of Pakistan.

• The rally organizers will not invite guests from any particular sects.

The Lahore High Court had summoned Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider and SSP Dost Muhammad to be in court on March 7, Tuesday. The administration said it was denying permission to stage a rally in the city because of “security concerns”.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Justice Anwar Hussain said that these matters were brought to court every year.

The deputy commissioner said that this year Aurat March organizers had submitted a request to hold the rally at Nasir Bagh.

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

“Then why are rallies and processions being held in the city?” Justice Hussain asked. The court said that the police become active when a political leader makes an appearance.

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

Justice Ahmed interjected and said that the district administration could not stop the organizers from holding a rally.

The public prosecutor suggested that the march could be held outside the Lahore Press Club.

The court advised the Aurat March organizers to ensure that there is no chaos or riots at the rally.

How it started

Earlier this month, Lahore Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider rejected permission to organize Aurat March. The decision was taken because of “security concerns, threat alerts, controversial cards and banners for awareness of women’s rights, and strong reservation of the general public and religious organizations, especially Jamaat-e-Islami.”

It mentioned the likelihood of clashes with members of JI’s ‘Haya March’.

The Aurat March organizing committee had requested a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the district administration to hold the event at Alhamra Hall, Mall Road/Aiwan-e-Iqbal, Egerton Road, and a demonstration from the Press Club, Shimla to Faisal Chowk, Mall Road and also at Nasir Bagh. DC Haider rejected the plea “in order to avoid any law and order situation/mishap”.

The Aurat March organizers called the DC’s actions a “blatant denial” of their fundamental rights as a people’s movement. The organizers said that they did not require an NoC to exercise their constitutional right to march. “There is no legitimate public order rationale to prevent us from assembling, marching, and making our voices heard,” they said on Twitter.

Information minister weighs in

The interim Punjab government claimed on Sunday that it would not put any obstacles in the way of Aurat March in Lahore. “The reservations of the organizers of Aurat March have been allayed,” Interim Information Minister Amir Mir said in a statement two days after the Lahore district administration refused permission.

“The Punjab government will provide complete security to the participants of Aurat March,” the statement said and expressed hope that Aurat March would be held peacefully.

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Aurat March