A Karachi district and sessions court on Monday granted the Islamabad police three-day transitory remand of anchorperson and popular YouTuber Jameel Farooqi after he was arrested for “falsely accusing” the law enforcement agency of physically and sexually assaulting PTI leader Shahbaz Gill.
A first information report (FIR) was registered against the journalist at the Ramna police station.
Farooqui was presented before Judicial Magistrate Ali Sher Chandio by investigation officer (IO) Mian Muhammad Shehbaz today. The official requested the court to grant permission to shift the journalist to Islamabad.
During the hearing, the magistrate examined the case record, including the transit permission from the Sindh home department. He inquired if the suspect had been subjected to torture in custody but Farooqui did not complain of any maltreatment.
Instead, the suspect said that his family had not been informed about his arrest. Subsequently, the court instructed the police to inform Farooqui’s family about the case.
The magistrate also noted that the police record showed that the matter pertained to the Ramna police station where the FIR was lodged but the accused could not be traced and was later apprehended near the Cantonment General Hospital in Karachi.
“In the given situation, the police office’s request seems justified to the extent of granting Farooqui to transit police custody remand; and hence, the accused is remanded to such police custody for three days,” he ruled.
Furthermore, the magistrate directed the IO to produce the journalist before the magistrate concerned according to the law under the intimation to the incumbent court.
But, if the three-day period of the suspect’s remand expires in the meantime before reaching the Islamabad court for whatever justifiable reasons, the police shall seek a fresh remand from the nearest magistrate in surroundings for further proceedings, the court added.
Farooqui accuses Islamabad police of torture
Meanwhile, a video shared on PTI’s official Twitter showed the visibly distressed journalist handcuffed, accompanied by an Islamabad police official, at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport.
In the clip, Farooqui alleged that his clothes had been stripped off after which he was beaten up.
“On orders of the home ministry […] just because I am speaking the truth […] they tortured me, removed my clothes and beat me.
“The Islamabad police has obtained my transit remand at the moment to take me from Karachi to Islamabad,” the journalist said, adding that his family and channel were still unaware of his whereabouts.
Earlier in the day, a spokesperson for Islamabad police in a statement said that a case had been registered against Farooqui at the Ramna police station.
“In his vlog, the suspect falsely accused Islamabad police of sexually and physically assaulting Gill,” the statement said, which was also carried by Radio Pakistan.
The anchorperson’s allegations are a reiteration of the PTI’s claims of Gill being “sexually abused” and “tortured both mentally and physically” by investigators during the ongoing probe against him in a sedition case.
The first information report (FIR) against Farooqui, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was registered on Sunday under Sections 499 (defamation), 500 (punishment for defamation), 501 (printing or engraving matter known to be defamatory), and 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
The complainant, a magistrate, said that he had seen a video circulating in different groups on his phone where Farooqui, in a vlog on his YouTube channel, shared graphic details of the Islamabad police’s alleged torture of the PTI leader.
The complaint said the journalist attempted to discredit the police with false allegations, which was tantamount to obstructing the investigation.
It added that the journalist tried to distract police, create anarchy and provoke the public against officials.
Karachi police denies arrest
Zaman Town SHO Zahid Lodhi, however, told Dawn.com that local police had not arrested the YouTuber.
He said an employee of Bol TV, who identified himself as Kamran Minhas, had phoned the police station and said that Farooqui had left the channel’s office in Korangi on Saturday night but had been missing since.
The officer said he told Minhas that Farooqui had not been taken into custody by local police or any team falling under his jurisdiction.
Separately, Bol TV President and Editor-in-chief Nazir Leghari told Dawn.com that Farooqui was associated with the channel and hosted a programme on a regular basis.
“Someone may have had a difference of opinion regarding his views but he has not committed any crime,” Leghari insisted.
He was of the view that the government adopted such “high-handed tactics when their days in power are numbered”.
He asked the media fraternity to raise their voice against this “tyranny”, saying media freedom would be “minimised” if timely action was not taken.
Commenting on Farooqui’s arrest, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said the government was using coercive tactics to “control” a few media groups. “But the days of cruelty are numbered,” he added.
Bol TV’s Sami Ibrahim said the journalist was arrested “for producing a vlog which was nothing but a political satire”. He said police had arrested Farooqui but his whereabouts were not known.
KUJ condemns Farooqui’s ‘disappearance’
Separately, the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) condemned Farooqui’s “arrest and subsequent disappearance” and urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to take notice of the “violation of human rights and vindictive policy against the media persons”.
The KUJ also demanded that Farooqui be presented before the court concerned.
In the statement, KUJ President Shahid Iqbal and General Secretary Fahim Siddiqi said that Islamabad police registered a case against Farooqi at 10:55pm on Sunday, noting that he had been registered in Karachi within a few hours.
“He was arrested when he left his Bol TV office after conducting a programme there at night. He was traveling in a car and was on his way home when unknown persons took him away along with his car and since then his whereabouts [are] not known,” the statement said.
The KUJ believes Farooqi’s vlog is objectionable and contrary to journalistic and moral values but his detention from the way was against the basic human rights and against his right to defend himself, the statement said.