KARACHI: Four prosecution witnesses, all policemen, testified before an antiterrorism court on Saturday in a case against leaders and workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement pertaining to allegedly facilitating and listening to an incendiary speech of their London-based chief against the security establishment.
Six leaders — Dr Farooq Sattar, Rauf Siddiqui, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, MPA Khawaja Izharul Hasan, Qamar Mansoor and Rehan Hashmi — along with many party workers have been indicted in these cases registered at two different police stations.
On Saturday, the matter was fixed before the judge of the ATC-I for hearing. The investigating officers produced four witnesses in court to record their statements.
Dr Sattar, Mr Siddiqui, Khawaja Izhar, Mr Mansoor and others were present.
Defence counsel submits that FIRs lodged with mala fide intentions
The witnesses testified that they were posted at the Sachal and Malir police stations as muharir, when concerned citizens turned up to register FIRs against the MQM leadership, including its coordination committee members, for arranging and listening to the alleged hate speech by their party founder Altaf Hussain at the party’s Nine Zero headquarters in Azizabad on July 12, 2015.
The witnesses, who were police officials, testified that they had entertained the applications submitted by the complainants and registered the cases as per their statements.
They deposed that from their statements it transpired that cognizable offences had been committed, thus FIRs were registered under sections applicable on the commission of the alleged offences.
The witnesses also mentioned the entire contents of the FIRs in court.
On the other hand, Advocate Shaukat Hayat, the defence counsel for Dr Sattar and Siddiqui, submitted that interestingly the contents of all the four FIR — Nos. 266 and 268/2015 registered at the Sachal police station and Nos. 143 and 148/2015 registered at the Malir police station — suggested that the contents of all of them were the same.
Moreover, the same set of accused had been booked in all the cases lodged in connection with the same offence, he added.
The counsel added that the specific addresses of the complainants in the four FIRs were not mentioned.
He pointed out that some of the FIRs even lacked signatures of the complainants, which suggested that the cases were lodged with mala fide intentions to book the accused in “false cases”.
After recording their statements, the judge summoned other witnesses for March 9.
Mayor’s plea for exemption allowed
The court also allowed an application to condone the absence of Mayor Akhtar, who has also been indicted in the case.
Earlier, the court had amalgamated over 21, out of around 26, identical FIRs against the MQM leaders for allegedly facilitating and listening to the highly provocative speech of Mr Hussain.
Senior leaders including Dr Sattar, Mayor Akhtar, Amir Khan, Federal Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rauf Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Khawaja Izhar, Gul Faraz Khattak, Salman Mujahid, Abdul Qadir Khanzada, Khushbakht Shujaat, Shahid Pasha, Qamar Mansoor, Kanwar Naveed along with nearly 200 party workers have been booked in the cases.
Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2019