ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday directed the district administration to release the detained workers and activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah issued the directions while hearing a petition against police harassment of PTI members.

Previously, Justice Athar had said in his written order, “The Deputy Commissioner and the Inspector General of Police are further directed not to unnecessarily harass or deprive citizens of their right to liberty. They are also directed to submit the plan prepared in the light of the directions given by the august Supreme Court.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, the IHC Chief Justice asked that why were they being harassed unnecessarily despite the court’s directions.

Deputy Commisioner Islamabad responded that the political party had asked for permission for long march. However, he asserted that they were denied permission after the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had received a threat that a foreign agency may target the political party in question. He added that reports regarding weapons with the march participants were also received.

How many PTI activists have been taken into custody so far, asked the court. At this, the DC informed the court that about 70 workers had been detained in Islamabad. To this, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that if there was a report about someone trying to damage the Metro, police could take an affidavit from them.

He said that as long as someone has not acted, harassment based on suspicion alone cannot be done. You should take a bond from them and release them.

Then, Justice Athar directed to release the 70 arrested workers of PTI on a surety bond and said that if there was a case against anyone, the court should be informed on May 26 (today).

Meanwhile, the same bench directed former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to appear before the court to get an extension in his protective bail. During the hearing of the case, the counsel representing Sheikh Rashid said that his client is over 70 years of age and he is exempted to appear before the court.

At this, the court asked that why Sheikh Rasheed who is giving remarks about a violent long march is unable to appear before the court. Justice Athar remarked that the court has given him protective bail and if he wanted an extension in it, he should appear before the bench.

Later, the IHC bench deferred the hearing in this matter till Thursday (today).