Islamabad: Aurat March participants in the capital city are sharing shocking accounts of how they came under attack by affiliates of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and Lal Masjid on Sunday.
The attack took place when the march was about to end. ‘Haya March’, a counter-protest against the Aurat March was staged near the same venue, whose participants were allegedly among the attackers. A cloth partition installed by the police to protect the participants was removed by the assailants. The sticks-wielding extremists barged into the march and attacked the participants with stones, bricks and shoes. A number of participants including one of the organisers, Awami Workers Party (AWP) leader Ismat Shahjahan, was injured in the attack. Ismet received injuries on her head.
Why was the ‘counter-protest’ allowed in the first place?
It is being questioned as to why the law enforcement agencies let extremist individuals (who had expressed their desire to stop the Aurat March by force) hold their gathering in the first place. The Haya March did not have a no objection certificate (NOC), but it did not face any hurdles or restriction. The organisers of the Aurat March, however had to negotiate with the officials for weeks to get the NOC, which also came with unnecessarily strict conditions. The capital city’s administration certainly has a lot to answer about the untoward incident which could have clearly been avoided had they acted on time.
As the violence continued to spread throughout the march, the police acted as a silent spectator. Large bricks were thrown at the participants, and the police failed to stop the assailants. The police’s failure to protect the participants of the Aurat March shows they were ill-prepared to provide security to the march despite Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s orders for the same.
Participants’ refusal to cow down even after being attacked
Social media users have praised the courage displayed by the organisers of the march who continued to chant slogans after the attack. Tooba Syed, an organiser of the march, addressed the participants following the attack and vowed to continue the march.