RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD - First Class Civil Judge Azhar Iqbal on Sunday ordered immediate release of all the 383 political workers of PTI and PAT, produced by the police before his court, for lack of evidences against them.

Earlier, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered release of all the protesters of Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) arrested by the police for violating Section 144. PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Azam Swati, provincial leader Shibli Faraz, DJ Butt and others were among those released from Adiala Jail.

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi also issued a notice to the government, directing it to submit reply to the petition filed against the arrest of PTI leaders and workers.

The CJ issued these orders in a petition moved by PTI lawyer Niazullah Khan Niazi who contended the police had arrested some 6oo protesters of PTI and sent them to jail after registering cases against them for violating Section 144.

Earlier, police produced Azam Swati, Shibli Faraz, son of renowned poet Ahmad Faraz, and Syed Ali Raza before Duty Magistrate Muhammad Shoaib Akhtar. The magistrate directed the police to send them to jail on judicial remand as no physical remand was required.

Immediately after these orders, Niazullah Niazi advocate submitted their bail applications before the court. Public Prosecutor Malik Haseeb opposed their bail pleas. He contended that the accused could put law and order situation at risk, praying to the court to reject their bail petitions and send them to jail.

The counsel for the PTI leaders argued the police had nominated Fauzia Kasuri who had been in America since August 28, which showed the case had been registered with mala fide intention. Niazi also informed the magistrate that IHC had already issued orders for the release of the protesters. The duty magistrate sought a copy of the IHC order which was provided to him. After seeing the copy, the magistrate accepted their bail pleas and directed them to submit surety bonds worth Rs 200,000 each.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Irfan, 34, a diehard follower of Tahirul-Qadri, was rearrested by police a couple of hours after his release from Adiala Jail on Sunday morning.

Hundreds of workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, including Irfan, were released from Adiala Jail on Sunday morning following a court order. As most of those who were released got together and headed to Islamabad, Rawalpindi police intercepted them at Kutchehri Chowk traffic signal and rounded up majority of them, including Muhammad Irfan, a labourer by profession. According to PTI and PAT sources, their 90 workers were nabbed again, but the police authorities said no one was rearrested.

This correspondent’s visit to various police stations of Rawalpindi revealed the lockups were replete with the motorists accused of violating Section 144 and taking law into their hands. The courtyards of the police stations were also full of impounded motorcycles.

The police crackdown on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers on Saturday widened the already existing distance between the government and the protesting political parties. The arrests made in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Islamabad a day before the One-Nation Day scheduled by PTI proved a big blow to the protracted negotiation process between the protesting parties and the government.