ISLAMABAD: Senior Civil Judge Saqib Jawad issued a non-bailable arrest warrant on Friday against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz while hearing a case filed by civil society members.
During the hearing, the investigation officer of the case requested the court to issue an arrest warrant for Abdul Aziz for investigation, based on a First Information Report (FIR) that was previously registered against the cleric at Aabpara Police Station.
Judge Saqib accepted the investigation officer's request and an arrest warrant was issued, which will be followed by the police taking legal procedures to arrest Aziz for further investigation.
In response to the arrest warrant, spokesman for the Lal Masjid Shuhada Foundation Hafiz Ehtisham said that Maulana Abdul Aziz will resist arrest. He added that there have been arrest warrants against political leaders in different cases such as the Model Town incident and the attack on PTV's office, but they were not arrested. Therefore, Maulana Aziz will resist any such move, Ehtisham said.
The non-bailable FIR was registered under section 506 (2) of the Pakistan Penal Code which states punishment for criminal intimidation or threats.
Following the deadly attack on Army Public School in Peshawar, civil society activists gathered outside the capital's Lal Masjid last week to protest a statement by the cleric in which he refused to condemn the massacre.
More on this: Citizens arrive at Lal Masjid to ‘reclaim their mosque’
A civil society activist, Ahmad Ali, told Dawn that Maulana Abdul Aziz refused to condemn the incident in Peshawar and said he could not call the students who were killed ‘martyrs’.
The protesters chanted slogans against Maulana Abdul Aziz as a staff member came out of the mosque and warned protesters that any further chanting will not be tolerated by the management. Police in riot gear also arrived at the scene and asked the protesters to disperse.
Station House Officer (SHO) at Aabpara Police Station Abdul Rehman while talking to Dawn confirmed that an FIR had been registered against participants of the protest. “The protesters violated Section 144, they blocked the road and delivered hate speech against the administration of the mosque,” he said.
He added that the FIR had been registered on the request of the mosque administration.
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.
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 added.
“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,” Nasir explained.
In the midst of civil society protests and FIR applications, Jibran Nasir received a threatening phone call from an individual claiming to be Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar's spokesman.
A man claiming to be Ehsanullah Ehsan asked Nasir to end the protests, or "be ready for consequences".
Nasir however remained defiant and determined to continue the protest, despite the threat.
"We've told him we are standing firm," the activist said on social media.