Police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Kohat district released Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen after keeping him in detention for almost eight hours on Friday, according to PTM leaders.
Kohat District Police Officer Sohail Khalid confirmed Pashteen's release, saying he was kept in police custody for a short period.
"We have just received information from Kohat that police officials have released the PTM chief and others," Ihtesham Afghan, a PTM leader, told Dawn.com.
According to Afghan, police had intercepted Pashteen and other activists on Khushalgarh Bridge, in the jurisdiction of Gumbat Police, early Friday morning while they were on their way to Bannu to attend a sit-in.
Earlier, a PTM source told Dawn.com that Pashteen had planned to attend a sit-in in Bannu’s Janikhel area to protest the killing of a local resident.
“Our chief’s vehicle was intercepted by police on Khushalgarh Bridge under the guise of security clearance,” the PTM member said, adding that police had not shared any details of Pashteen’s arrest with them.
A police source confirmed this account; however, he said he did not know whether the arrest was made in an old case or after a new First Information Report (FIR) was registered.
He said at the time that police would release details about Pashteen’s arrest later.
In March, police had booked Pashteen and three of his friends under the treason charge allegedly for raising slogans against Pakistan and state institutions.
However, in a tweet about the incident, Pashteen had maintained that he and his companions had come under attack by a group of 20 to 25 people while they were on their way back to Islamabad from Battagram after attending meetings.
Prior to that, the PTM chief was booked in multiple cases of sedition and was also arrested last year. The arrest was made after he had addressed a gathering in Dera Ismail Khan, where he had allegedly said the 1973 Constitution violated basic human rights and made derogatory remarks about the state.
Initially, Pashteen was arrested in a case registered against him at DI Khan's City police station under Sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition), and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
He was released from jail on February 24, 2020, after his bail applications in two sedition cases were accepted by a district court in DI Khan.
On February 15, 2020, a sessions court in Tank district had granted bail to Pashteen in two cases of sedition, while he was also granted bail in a similar case by a DI Khan court.
Earlier that month, the PTM chief's bail applications in two other cases — also pertaining to sedition — were approved by a DI Khan court on February 8.