KARACHI: An antiterrorism court again issued on Saturday non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, the party’s Pakistan chapter convener and candidate for NA-255 Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and former lawmaker Rasheed Godil in two identical cases of hate speech.

MQM-Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar, party founder Altaf Hussain, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain, Amir Khan, Rashid Godil, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Salman Mujahid and some other party leaders have been declared absconders in two main cases registered at the Quaidabad police station after a highly provocative speech of the MQM founder on Aug 22, 2016 outside the Karachi Press Club that triggered a violent protest, arson attacks and ransacking of media houses.

In the last hearing, the investigating officer had submitted final charge sheets, mentioning Altaf Hussain, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Salman Mujahid and others as absconders.

On Saturday, Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Khwaja Izharul Hasan, Rauf Siddiqui, Shahid Pasha, Rehan Hashmi, Gulfaraz Khattak and some others appeared in court.

The ATC-I judge recorded a statement of the investigating officer, who expressed his inability to execute the bailable warrants issued earlier. He directed the IO to arrest them and produce them in court on the next date of hearing.

Next hearing set on Aug 11

Meanwhile, the MQM leaders moved an application through their counsel asking the court to fix the next hearing after the upcoming general elections scheduled for July 25. Allowing their request, the judge fixed the matter on Aug 11.

Meanwhile, the judge expressed his extreme displeasure over the absence of the investigating officers in seven identical cases. The judge issued them show-cause notices to furnish written explanation on the next date regarding their absence.

Initially, police had arrested party leaders Kunwar Naveed, Qamar Mansoor, Shahid Pasha, Gulfaraz Khattak and around 50 party workers in two cases registered at the Artillery Maidan police station related to the Aug 22 speech of the MQM founder. Later, Kunwar Naveed was released on bail.

However, police had also charge-sheeted the same set of suspects in three identical cases pertaining to the Aug 22 speech registered at the Quaidabad, Steel Town and SITE Superhighway police stations.

In June last year, the court had granted interim pre-arrest bail to MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar in around 30 cases pertaining to hate speech of the party’s founder.

Published in Dawn, July 8th, 2018