ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad police on Sunday arrested a central leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), Mufti Kifayat­ullah, on charges of inciting people for participation in the Oct 31 anti-government Azadi march and collection of donation for the protest.

The arrest came a day after the signing of an agreement between the government and the JUI-F-led opposition regarding the venue of Azadi march in Islamabad.

Informed sources said the JUI-F leader was arrested during a raid on his residence adjacent to a mosque, located at E-11/3 sector of Islamabad.

JUI-F leader was first taken to an undisclosed location in Islamabad, later KP police took him to Mansehra

According to details collected from the police and JUI-F, a joint team of the Capital and Mansehra district police raided the residence of Mufti Kifayatullah and arrested him. Soon after the arrest, he was first taken to an undisclosed location in the capital and later the KP police took him to Mansehra.

Sources said that the JUI-F leader had now been detained in Haripur Central Jail.

Earlier, the Mansehra police approached Islamabad’s Golra police and informed them about the reasons for their arrival in the capital, police officials told Dawn on condition of anonymity, adding that they also handed over Mufti Kifayatullah’s arrest order issued by the office of Mansehra Deputy Commissioner Aurangzeb Haider Khan.

The order says it was reported by the Mansehra district police on Oct 26 that JUI-F district chief Mufti Kifayatullah is involved in “chanda” [donation] collection, holding corner meetings and inciting public to take part in the Azadi march.

“These activities are posing a great threat to public safety which may create disturbance of public tranquility, danger to human life, health and safety,” the order said.

“Due to this act of the Mufti, serious sectarian disharmony is prevailing in the district and the situation is snowballing into serious law and order and the Mansehra district police officer has made a request for issuance of warrants under the MPO (Maintenance of Public Order) against him to forestall his unlawful activities,” the order said.

The Mansehra deputy commissioner ordered that Mufti Kifayatullah be detained and confined to Haripur Central Jail for 30 days.

Confirming the arrest, a spokesman for the JUI-F, Mufti Safiur Rehman, condemned the action and said the reason behind the arrest was still unknown.

At the time of his arrest, he was resting at home with his sons and nephews, said the spokesman. “I was not present at the spot, but later came to know that Islama­bad and Mansehra police had arrested him,” he said.

“The arrest has been made after we signed an agreement with the government regarding the venue of Azadi march,” the spokesman regretted.

The agreement was made between two parties, but someone intruded into it, he said, adding that it was too early to comment on the fate of the agreement till JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman discussed the matter.

The capital police in a statement denied that they had arrested Mufti Kifayatullah. “The capital police have neither raided any place nor arrested him,” it said.

There is no mention in the statement about the presence of Mansehra police in the capital. Senior officers of the capital police, when contacted, remained tightlipped over the issue.

Informed sources said the JUI-F leader had been detained because of his recent speech in which he had allegedly passed some “objectionable” remarks against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We would take along with us 100,000 people from here to federal capital to take part in Azadi march and force the fascist prime minister to step down,” Mufti Kifayatullah was quoted as telling a gathering in Mansehra.

Maulana Habibur Rehman, the elder brother of Kifayatullah, while talking to reporters, said it was “deplorable” that on one hand, the government had been holding talks with the JUI-F and, on the other, a key party leader had been arrested.

JUI-F activists took out a motorbike rally in protest against the arrest. The rally was taken out from Dodial and Shinkiari areas and it jointly reached Mansehra.

Nisar Ahmed Khan from Mansehra also ­contributed to the report

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2019