At least three policemen have been suspended for using force against Aurat March participants and for hitting them with baton, following a scuffle between the two sides, a Pakistani newspaper has reported.
After Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah took notice of the ncident, summoned, and reprimanded Islamabad Police Chief, the low-ranking officers were suspended hours later, Dawn reported on Wednesday.
According to a police spokesperson, the constables were suspended on allegations of using batons on protesters during the annual Aurat March, which started at the National Press Club and finished at D-Chowk on Constitution Avenue to celebrate International Women's Day.
Although he acknowledged that senior police and administration officials were present at the scene when the scuffle broke out at the march's beginning point, the spokesperson claimed that the police officers didn't receive any orders to use force from their higher ups.
The spokesperson said that there was no particular justification for the police action. He remained silent when asked if the suspended officers would face legal repercussions.
He added that the deputy inspector general for operations had been asked to submit a report after Islamabad Police expressed regret for the event. He said that the DIG had been tasked with finding and taking legal action against individuals responsible for employing force against protesters.
Three police officials had been suspended, the interior ministry added in a tweet.
He also said that other people responsible for misbehaviour will also be identified and appropriate action would be taken against them.
In a previous tweet, Sanaullah had threatened to take "strict legal action" against those in charge of the "mistreatment" of marching civilians.
The minister stated that he had taken strict notice of the treatment given to marchers, and he added that the Islamabad police chief had been called to discuss the situation.
The National Press Club's neighbouring road was earlier blocked by the capital police with containers and barbed wire. Some 100 women and civil society activists arrived at the press club using massive loudspeakers that were mounted on a moving vehicle.
The marchers were asked to proceed without the vehicle as police had confiscated it. The participants defied the order, nevertheless, and this resulted in some tense confrontations between the marchers and the police.
Both sides began pushing back against each other during the verbal exchanges, and then suddenly some police officers started hitting some of the women participants with batons. The DIG operations and SSP operations quickly responded to the information and arrived at the scene where they were able to diffuse the situation.
A report publised in Dawn read, Climate Change Minister, Sherry Rehman, also arrived to the location in the meanwhile. A fight broke out when journalists and TV crews attempted to interview Rehman but were prevented by other march participants. But, as participants and the police intervened, the situation quickly came under control.
Afterwards, the Aurat March made its way to the D-Chowk, where it peacefully dispersed.
Almost 200 female Jamia Hafsa students and teachers marched towards Express Chowk from the G-7 neighbourhood at the same time. Some of them were carrying sticks.
According to officials, Jamaat-i-Islami also held a rally from Aabpara to China Chowk, and the police also stopped them near Polyclinic Hospital. Nonetheless, entrance to China Chowk was granted to the participants following talks, Dawn reported. (ANI)