Four people were arrested in Multan on Thursday for their involvement in delivering hate speech of a sectarian nature and defaming members of the government, police said.
The action was taken over a speech delivered by one of the apprehended suspects at a mosque in Multan's Ali Town on December 28, 2018.
In the said speech, made through a loudspeaker, the primary suspect allegedly incited the audience's religious emotions by issuing statements of a sectarian nature and provoked them against the Government of Pakistan and incumbent rulers, according to the First Information Report (FIR) of the incident.
The FIR has been registered on the complaint of a police official against six named and 40-45 unidentified people. Four out of the six named persons have been arrested.
According to the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the nominated persons were spreading "sectarianism and bigotry" along with the main accused and raising slogans against the government.
Two of the suspects recorded videos of the alleged hate speech through their mobile phones and later uploaded them onto Facebook and other social media.
The case against the nominated suspects has been registered under Sections 500 (defamation), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 109 (abetment with an accused) of the Pakistan Penal Code, 14 and 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order, and 3/6 of the Punjab Sound Systems (Regulation) Ordinance, 2015.
The arrests come a day after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry announced that a crackdown was expected soon against extremism on social media, even as rights activists expressed scepticism about the move.
“In the next few weeks we will launch a crackdown,” the minister told an event. “I am making it clear that the state will not allow extremists to dictate their narrative by use of force.”