21st November 2007
Athar Minallah was arrested on the 21st of Nov. 2007 at approx. 1.30pm .He had been accompanying Retd. Justice Wajiuddin Ahmad the whole of that morning. After the arrival of the judge from Karachi Athar took him to the District courts of Islamabad in the F-8 sector where the Hon . Retd. Judge delivered a speech to the lawyers.While still at the dist. Courts ,someone conveyed a message that the Chief Justice, Justice Iftikhar Mohd Chaudhry had left his house and was trying to go to the Supreme Court, but was being prevented by the police.That very day a govt. spokesperson had announced in the newspapers that the judges "WERE NOT DETAINED '' .It was due to this news that the Chief Justice and Justice Bhagwandas decided to go to the SC.
When Justice Wajiuddin and an entourage of lawyers arrived at the scene the place was crawling with police carrying batons and shields and wearing helmets.When Jus. Wajiuddin wanted to go and visit the CJ, he was denied access to the road leading to the detained judges houses , and when he demanded an explanation as to why he being prevented ,the reply was "HOW COULD HE BE ALLOWED TO GO TO THE SUPREME COURT.There were some clashes between the police and the lawyers ,and a lot of loud and angry slogans were being chanted After the chaos died down, Athar and Justice Wajiuddin headed towards the Islamabad Club, where they were to meet a group of foreign media persons.
They had not gone very far when 2 police mobile vans forced them to stop, one of them in front and the other behind.Around six or seven PLAINCLOTHES INTELLIGENCE persons got out of the vans and walked towards the car.They opened the door on Athar's side and started pulling him out of the car, saying that they had a WARRANT for his arrest.Jus Waji called out to them to stop pulling and to show them the document.The men DRAGGED Athar out of the car and took him to their vehicle and SHOVED him inside.These details were given by Retd. Jus. Waji himself. He was very shaken and extremely upset . He made his way to the club and informed the journalists about what had happened. From there he went to the Dist. Courts in Rawalpindi and addressed the lawyers , informing them of the incident.Then he addressed a huge gathering of people from all walks of life and narrated the same again at a seminar held in the Holiday Inn, Islamabad.
In the mean time I was informed by my driver , who had been driving their car, that both of them had been arrested. I immediately started calling all the journalists whose numbers I had in my mobile phone. Since the arrest was made near the Marriot hotel ,the Secretariat Police Station would be the right one. I went there at approx 2pm with some friends but the place had a deserted look.The duty officer said he had no knowledge of the incident and neither could he help us.
ATHAR INFORMED ME IN MY MEETING WITH HIM TODAY AT ADIALA JAIL THAT WHEN WE WENT TO THE POLICE STATION LOOKING FOR HIM , HE COULD HEAR OUR VOICES SINCE HE WAS IN A ROOM NEXT DOOR AND HAD BEEN THREATENED TO KEEP QUIET. THE MOMENT WE LEFT HE WAS BUNDLED INTO A PRIVATE CAR WHICH SPED TOWARDS PINDI. ATHAR KEPT ASKING WHERE THEY WERE TAKING HIM BUT THERE WAS NO REPLY, HE WAS TAKEN TO THE SIHALA POLICE STATION AND FORCED TO WAIT FOR HOURS.ATHAR KEPT ASKING THEM WHERE THEY WOULD BE TAKING HIM AND THEY KEPT SAYING THEY WERE AWAITING ORDERS.HE WAS KEPT THERE TILL APROX 6PM AND THEN TAKEN TO ADIALA JAIL.
In the mean time I had been going to the Police Stations all over Islamabad trying to find him but we had no luck. I started getting very worried and my biggest fear was that since plainclothes men had arrested him they might take him to some unknown destination. At approx 4pm I decided to attend the seminar which was being held in the Holiday Inn. I was desperate and wanted to meet Retd.Justice Wajiuddin regarding some advice as to the next step. It was there that I received a phonecall from a reliable source that Athar was being shifted to Adiala.
I went the next day to meet Athar but after waiting outside the prison for 4 hrs I was informed that I needed the permission of the Home Secy.The next day I was able to get permission .
Inside the prison I followed a policeman through several corridors and several locked gates till we got to the room where I was to meet him. There were policemen constantly sitting in the room with us .Athar looked fine but he said that those few hours of urcertainty had been very taxing on his nerves , not to mention my agony. He is in a cell with other prisoners and they sleep on the floor. Matresses , pillows or quilts are not allowed .We were told that the max capacity of the prison was 2000 wheres the number of prisoners at the moment 6000.
My heart goes out to the families of those who are missing, without any charge. For the wives of thousands of lawyers who are arrested after November 3. Unfortunatey we are living in the stone age right now.There are no courts, no judges, no constitution, no law, no fundamental rights. The custodians of law and order have their guns pointed towards the people they are paid to protect.We are cursed with the most despicable dictatorship, the army is busy wiping out their own people, the Chief Justice and judges of the SC are locked in their houses with locks and chains on the gates, the President says FAIR AND FREE ELECTIONS will be held ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION.The prisons are bursting at their seams with people who have stood up for the independence of the judiciary and the corridors of power are also bursting with the most amazing collection of spineless people one could ever imagine.