KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Tuesday indicted disgruntled Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Dr Farooq Sattar and 13 others for provoking violence and arson to obstruct eviction of families occupying government houses in the Pakistan Quarters area.
Dr Sattar along with around 300 to 400 others has been booked for allegedly instigating violence, rioting and armed assault on local administration officials and law enforcers during an hours-long standoff between residents and officials on Oct 24, 2018 within the remit of the Soldier Bazaar police station.
On Tuesday, the matter was fixed before the ATC-XVIII judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, for indictment.
Dr Sattar and 13 nominated suspects appeared in court on bail. The judge read out charges to the accused persons, who pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the case.
The judge summoned all prosecution witnesses to record their statements on July 23.
Earlier, the investigating officer had charge-sheeted Dr Sattar, Shamim Ahmed, Qazi Faisal Siddiqui, Raheemuddin, Asif Raza, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Idrees, Asif Ali, Mohammad Osama, Santosh, Altaf Hussain, Mohammad Ayaz, Nadeem Ahmed and around 300 to 400 unknown residents.
In the investigation report, IO Sarfaraz mentioned that the police and local administration officials reached the area on Oct 24, 2018 to get the accommodations vacated after ejectment notices were issued by the state. However, around 300 to 400 residents, including women and children, who were armed with batons and stones, abused the officials and attacked them, it added.
The investigation report further stated that water cannons and teargas shells were used to disperse the protesters, but they blocked Nishtar Road and also damaged the official vehicles. Eight policemen, including SHO Sub-inspector Naveed Soomro, constables Zaman Abbas, Mohammad Waqar, Mohammad Rizwan, Izhar Ahmed, Munir Ahmed and Abid Ali were injured, it added.
The charge sheet stated that 13 were arrested while Dr Sattar and scores of others managed to flee. It added that the statements of the eyewitnesses were recorded, except some officials who had returned to Islamabad.
The IO said that Section 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Pakistan Penal Code was removed from the FIR on the permission of the police high-ups.
Initially, a case was registered under Sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation), 337-A (punishment for Shajjah), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the PPC at the Soldier Bazaar police station.
Later, Section 7 (acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was incorporated in the FIR on the recommendation of the state prosecutor.
Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2019