Yoga Day unrest: High Court maintains Sheikh Nishan's detention

The High Court Thursday ruled that there is no judicial and legal basis to quash the Criminal Court's order to remand in custody Sheikh Adam Nishan, who was arrested for allegedly leading the International Yoga Day unrest.

On June 21, a group stormed the National Stadium while an event to mark International Yoga Day was ongoing. The event was held despite religious scholars advising against it, as yoga is considered impermissible in Islam under several fatwas. Twenty-one people, including two religious scholars, were arrested. Including Sheikh Nishan, six people still remain in custody.

The Criminal Court's arrest and remand orders against Sheikh Nishan were appealed in the High Court. The High Court ruled that the first order was issued correctly and that there was no reason to overrule it.

Among the points of appeal filed by Nishan's lawyers was that the police had included additional matters that were not part of the police's original charges in their application for review of custody in the Criminal Court. The defense lawyers said the police had later included that the Yoga Day unrest was carried out with political, religious, or extremist motives and to create fear among the people.

The unanimous decision of the three judges of the High Court stated that when a person is arrested, the investigation of the case will be in its initial stages. As the case is investigated, new evidence will be discovered. Therefore, the judgment stated that the grounds, in this case, are not newly fabricated.

The intelligence report submitted by the police as evidence in the lower court mentioned Nishan's actions on the day of the unrest. The report noted that Nishan had been active outside the stadium and interacted with the rioters. The report also highlighted Nishan's activities on social media.

The police requested to extend Nishan's custody, stating that there was sufficient evidence against him, including an intelligence report and video snapshots from the day of the unrest. The evidence shows that Nishan was involved in a criminal offense, the police said.

The High Court said the court order issued by the Criminal Court to remand Nishan in custody was valid as the consequence of the acts committed by Nishan was a danger to society and created fear in the hearts of people, in addition to creating unrest in the society.

The prosecution said Nishan committed an act of extremism under a religious slogan. While scholars differ in their opinion on the permissibility of practicing yoga in Islam, the prosecution alleges that Sheikh Nishan and Sheikh Fazloon led the Yoga Day unrest.

Three other orders issued by the court after reviewing Nishan's remand have also been appealed in the High Court. The hearings on the orders have now concluded, and a verdict will be issued soon.