ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was charged with another offence (disappearing evidence and giving false information), while the wife and brother-in-law of his driver were also arrested on Thursday in a case related to allegedly abetting mutiny and sedition.

Meanwhile, a court in Karachi discharged the head of the ARY News Ammad Yousaf from the case on Thursday.

Capital police officers told Dawn Section 201 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) — “causing disappearance of evidence of offence or giving false information to screen offender” — had been added to the FIR registered against Mr Gill.

The development comes two days after Mr Gill was arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against the state institutions, following his controversial remarks about the army on the news channel. Mr Gill’s driver/assistant, Izhar, was with him at the time of his arrest at Banigala Chowk in Islamabad and claimed he had been subjected to violence during the episode.

Court holds evidence against ARY News head insufficient

Police officers said the recording of the ARY News programme in which Mr Gill appeared had also been sent to the FIA for voice matching along with samples of his voice.

Officers said Mr Gill possessed his mobile phone at the time of the arrest, but its disappearance was noticed when the investigators came to collect it to send it to the FIA for forensic test and recover data.

Instead, a feature phone (the one with button-based inputs and a small non-touch display) was found with him instead of a smartphone, the officers said. On inquiry, Mr Gill replied that he left his smartphone at Banigala, though investigators believed he was hiding the truth.

They believed Mr Gill had either left his smartphone in his vehicle during the arrest or thrown it away somewhere else and now the mobile was in the custody of his driver.

The investigators also inquired about the place from where Mr Gill appeared in the news programme via an audio call and inquired about the script from which he was read. However, while the PTI leader disclosed the location from where he appeared in the bulletin, he denied reading from any script. However, the investigators insisted either Mr Gill was reading from written material or it was recorded audio.

FIR against driver, others

In the FIR registered against Mr Izhar and others, police said Mr Gill — who has been remanded in police custody — revealed during interrogation that he had given his mobile phone, which contained considerable matter regarding the case against him, to Mr Izhar, at the time of his arrest.

The FIR said he told police that Mr Izhar still had his mobile and was living at his in-laws’ residence.

Following this revelation, a special raiding party was constituted and sent to the house where Mr Izhar was staying at 1:40am on Thursday, the FIR said.

It said Mr Izhar’s wife, Meh­re­en, and another suspect, Noman, were arrested from the scene while the rest managed to flee because of the dark. Subsequently, a case was registered against all the suspects at Aabpara police station under sections 147, 149, 186, 353, 382 and 506 of the PPC.

In a late-night move, Izhar’s brother-in-law was shifted to Pims Hospital in Islamabad after his condition got deteriorated, police officers said. He fell unconscious outside the lockups when he was taken out from there. Shortly, he was taken to the hospital where he was given emergency medical assistance. He later regained consciousness and was said to be in stable condition.

Meanwhile, Mr Gill was also brought to Pims for medical examination and was found in good health and had no marks of injury on his body, the police said. A police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Case against ARY News official

Meanwhile, a local court in Karachi on Thursday discharged the head of the ARY News Ammad Yousaf from the case.

On Wednesday, Memon Goth police arrested Mr Yousaf from his DHA residence and booked over his alleged involvement in abetting criminal conspiracy, mutiny, sedition and other charges. Others booked in the case included the channel’s CEO Salman Iqbal, journalists Arshad Sharif and Khawar Ghuman, programme’s producer Raja Adeel and PTI leader Shahbaz Gill.

On Thursday, the investigating officer produced him before Malir’s Judicial Magistrate Rana Saifullah Hassan to seek his physical remand in police custody for interrogation and investigation.

The investigating officer submitted that Mr Yousaf had been booked in the present case and his physical custody was required for interrogation to complete the investigation and other legal formalities.

Separately, PTI chief Imran Khan has condemned the arrest of Mr Yousaf, lamenting that his daughter went into a state of shock when law enforcement agencies “barged into his house at 2am”.

Such things never happen in civilised societies, he said while addressing a minority convention in Islamabad on Thursday.

The former prime minister also condemned the arrest of Mr Gill’s wife and said that it was unfortunate that law enforcement agencies did not think that how her little daughter would live without mother.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2022

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