Civil society deadline for arrest of Lal Masjid cleric ends today

Published December 26, 2014
Maulana Abdul Aziz. — AFP/File
Maulana Abdul Aziz. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Civil society activists have decided to reach the Aabpara police station at 5pm on Friday as the deadline for the inclusion of terrorism sections in the FIR against Maulana Abdul Aziz expired.

If their demand to include the ATA sections in the FIR against the cleric was met by 5pm, the protesters would disperse otherwise they would take a decision for the next phase of their protest.

It may be noted that after the Peshawar tragedy, Maulana Aziz, the head of Lal Masjid, gave a controversial statement and said he would neither condemn the killing of the children nor considered them as martyrs. Because of the statement, the civil society started a protest against the cleric.

For two days, the protests were held in front of the mosque during which the Maulana also reportedly threatened the protesters. As a result, cases were registered against both the sides.

On the third day of the protest on December 20, the civil society moved to the National Press Club (NPC) and held a protest there. On December 22, when the protesters gathered outside the Aabpara police station, SHO Khalid Awan assured them that after getting a legal opinion the sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) would be included in the FIR registered against the cleric on the charge of instigating the citizens for violence and spreading sectarian hatred.

On the other hand, the civil society representatives warned that if the ATA sections were not included in the FIR and the cleric was not arrested, they would again hold a protest in front of the police station on December 26.

Human rights activist Jibran Nasir, the organiser of the protest, told Dawn that the police had sought two days for the fulfillment of the protesters’ demand.

“The police promised to include the sections in the FIR and arrest the cleric by December 24. We did not hold a protest on December 25 and celebrated Christmas with the Christian community,” he said.

“If the ATA sections are not included in the FIR and the cleric is not arrested by 5pm on Friday, we will announce our next line of action,” he said.

“Sections which have been demanded by the civil society are non-bailable, so the Maulana cannot even get bail before arrest. Police have to arrest him,” he said.

When contacted, SHO Awan said an opinion had been sought from the legal branch which was not a simple process.

“File moves from the police station to the superintendent of police (SP) office and then to the SSP office before reaching the legal branch and comes back in a similar way,” he said.

“If we got an opinion before 5pm on Friday to include the sections in the FIR, we will do it in accordance with the legal advice. Otherwise we will tell the civil society representatives that the process was lengthy,” he said.

A police official requesting not to be identified said according to the standard operating procedure, police sought a legal opinion when there was confusion about the inclusion of some sections in an FIR.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2014

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