• Police get two-day physical remand of PTI leader
• Fawad claims Gill abducted by personnel in cars with ‘missing number plate’
• Minister says arrest made in accordance with law on charges of sedition
ISLAMABAD: A day after his arrest in connection with ‘hateful remarks’ against the army in a TV programme, a four-member special investigation team (SIT) was constituted on Wednesday to probe the case registered against Shahbaz Gill, chief of staff to former prime minister Imran Khan, on several charges, including sedition, Dawn has learnt.
According to a notification, the SIT was tasked with collecting the relevant information from the individuals, officials and departments concerned relating to the case. The SSP investigation will obtain digital information form the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority for the purpose of investigation and submit a progress report to the DIG operations within seven days.
The SIT headed by the SSP investigation comprises the sub-divisional police officer and SHO Kohsar and a sub-inspector, who is also an investigation officer of the case.
Shahbaz Gill was arrested from Banigala while on his way to Imran Khan’s residence on Tuesday, capital police officers told Dawn. A case was registered against him at Kohsar police station under several sections Pakistan Penal Code, including 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempting to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot if rioting be committed; if not committed), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc), and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), among others.
According to the FIR, a programme was aired on a news channel in which Shahbaz Gill appeared as a guest. Answering a question, he tried to create a divide between the officers below the rank of brigadier and above, besides trying to affiliate the officers below the rank of brigadier with a political party, it added.
Mr Gill also tried to provoke mutiny among the officers of Pakistan Army and civil servants, asking them not to follow government’s orders and threatening them that Pakistan would become a colony of America and India if they do not wage a war or conduct mutiny, the FIR said.
Produced in court
On Wednesday morning, police produced Shahbaz Gill before the court of Judicial Magistrate Omer Shabir. After hearing arguments, the magistrate handed him over to police on a two-day physical remand and asked them to produce him on August 12.
“Investigation officer requested for a 14-day physical remand of the accused [Shahbaz Gill] for purpose of investigation and it has been submitted that physical custody of the accused is required by the police for investigation of other persons allegedly involved in the commission of the alleged offence, recovery of mobile phone allegedly used for the commission of the offence, for voice matching of the accused through forensics, and also to verify the interview given by him,” stated an order issued by the magistrate’s court.
Advocate General Jahangir Jadoon and state prosecutor Naveed Akhtar argued that physical remand was necessary for investigation, forensics in respect of voice matching and for verification of video from the media house and also to investigate the matter in respect of the involvement of other co-accused, if any.
However, Mr Gill’s counsel Faisal Fareed and Syed Mohammad Ali Bukhari argued that no ground for grant of physical remand existed, and the accused was already in police custody for the last 24 hours, adding that police had already obtained the video of TV programme.
Advocate Fareed alleged that his client had been tortured and requested for his medical examination. At this, the magistrate directed the investigation officer to get his medical examination done.
The police officers said the investigators had obtained the video of news bulletin of the news channel aired at 4.15pm on August 8, and its transcript from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra). Mr Gill’s mobile phone was also confiscated and would be sent for forensic test, and to the FIA for recovery of data and other relevant record, they added.
The officers said more arrests are likely, including those who conducted the TV programme with Mr Gill, adding that three persons who were considered co-accused went into hiding, and there were reports that one of them escaped abroad. “The FIA immigration department is being approached to get the travel history of the accused,” they added.
On Tuesday, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry claimed that Mr Gill had been abducted from Banigala Chowk by unidentified personnel in cars with missing number plate.
Later at a news conference, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Shahbaz Gill was arrested by Islamabad police in accordance with the law on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.
The minister alleged that PTI chief Imran Khan had been working on a narrative to create divide in the military after realising that he had been trapped in the prohibited funding case and Toshakhana reference. A private news channel was also involved in the conspiracy, he alleged, adding that the channel had been issued a show-cause notice by Pemra on Monday for airing hateful and seditious remarks made by Mr Gill.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2022