Banned outfit's leader booked for fanning sectarianism at Islamabad rally

Updated 20 Sep 2020

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A view of the Azmat-i-Sahaba march held in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo courtesy: Twitter
A view of the Azmat-i-Sahaba march held in Islamabad on Thursday. — Photo courtesy: Twitter

Islamabad police registered a first information report (FIR) against a central leader of the proscribed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) for inciting the attendees of a rally in the capital by using sectarian and anti-Shia remarks, it emerged on Saturday.

The remarks were made during the Azmat-i-Sahaba march, which was organised by the Muttahida Sunni Council at Islamabad's Express Chowk on Thursday. The march was attended by 1,900-2,000 participants, according to the FIR, which was registered on the complaint of Islamabad city magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Chandio.

According to the FIR registered at Kohsar police station, a copy of which is available with Dawn, ASWJ leader Masoodur Rehman Usmani has been booked under Section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The FIR stated that by using inappropriate language, Usmani had fanned sectarianism among the public and had incited them.

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The registration of the FIR was first reported by Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat, who in a tweet on Friday said a speaker at the rally was booked for "inciting violence and sectarian hatred".

Shafqaat said a ban was also being imposed on the ASWJ leader for "speaking again in public in the territorial limits of Islamabad".

The Islamabad DC had earlier told Dawn that the group had been given a no-objection certificate (NOC) to stage the event in response to their request, along with instructions to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Police and administration officials had said at the time that an agreement was made between the city administration and the Muttahida Sunni Council under which participants would follow SOPs for marches and processions.