PESHAWAR: A local anti-terrorism court on Saturday indicted the banned Tehreek Nifaz-i-Shariah Mohammadi’s chief, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, along with his two sons and several associates for inciting hatred against the government and staging an illegal sit-in in Timergara area of Lower Dir six years ago.

The accused pleaded not guilty in the case and decided to stand trial.

Judge Abdur Rauf Khan, who has been conducting the trial inside the Peshawar Central Prison for security reasons, fixed Feb 21 for the next hearing and summoned prosecution witnesses on that date.

Adil Majeed, lawyer for the accused, insisted his clients were innocent and would face trial.

In Oct 2008, Maulana Sufi Mohammad and TNSM activists staged a sit-in at the Rest House Ground in Timergara for several days.

During that sit-in, they delivered speeches against the government.

After the final stage of military operation against militants was launched in May 2009, an FIR was also registered against Maulana Sufi and several TNSM members for the sit-in.

The police charged the accused under Section 153-A of Pakistan Penal Code, which deals with promotion of hatred among people, and Section 11-F (3) of Anti-Terrorism Act, which deals with activities of an outlawed outfit.

TNSM was banned in 2002 and therefore, holding such activities was a crime under the law.

During the 2009 sit-in, the prime accused Maulana Sufi Mohammad declared that the protest would continue until enforcement of Shariah in Malakand region.

He also allegedly termed the country’s Constitution and laws un-Islamic.

Until now, Maulana Sufi Mohammad and several of his associates have been acquitted by the anti-terrorism court in 10 cases of terrorism.

Now, trial into only three cases, including the one in question, is underway.

Meanwhile, the court also adjourned the hearing into another case charging Maulana Sufi with sedition and waging war against the country.

As some witnesses did not turn up, the court fixed Feb 21 for the next hearing.

In that case, Maulana Sufi was charged with delivering a speech in Feb 2009 at Grassy Ground in Swat.

The prosecution alleged that in that speech, he had tried to instigate the people for waging a war against the country and also brought in contempt the federal and provincial governments as well as the Constitution.

The FIR was registered on July 30, 2009, under sections 120B, 121A and 506 of Pakistan penal Code and Section 11F of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2015

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