An Islamabad district and sessions court on Wednesday granted the Murree police one-day transit remand of Awami Muslim League (AML) chief and PTI ally Sheikh Rashid.
Rashid was arrested Feb 2 by the Islamabad police for remarks he made against former president Asif Ali Zardari. Later, another case was also registered against him at the Murree police station for manhandling a police official at the time of his arrest.
Ahead of the hearing today, the former interior minister was brought to the court amid tight security. As the proceeding commenced, Rashid’s lawyers — Ali Bukhari and Intizar Panjhota — and the prosecutor presented their arguments.
After listening to both sides, the court instructed the police to present Rashid before a relevant court in Murree by 2pm tomorrow, Thursday.
‘I’m blindfolded and my hands are bound’
A video posted on Rashid’s Twitter account showed him talking to reporters outside the court. “All they want is for me to switch loyalties,” he said ahead of the hearing.
As the hearing concluded, Rashid’s Twitter account posted yet another tweet.
He alleged: “They have decided to disqualify Imran Khan. They are telling me to leave Imran’s side. I was told that the provincial and central elections would be held together. When anyone comes to meet me, I am blindfolded and my hands are bound. They want to create another party from within the PTI. They did not investigate my cases.”
Throughout his incarceration, his account has been continuing to tweet, with posts containing the hashtag #ReleaseSheikhRashid.
At the outset of today’s hearing, Rashid came to the rostrum and said that a fake case had been framed against him.
“All these policemen are my brothers,” he proclaimed.
Rashid said that he had been a minister 16 times in his life, claiming that “they want to change my political alliances now”. “Last night they asked me to meet an important person but I refused.”
He told the court that he had given his phone’s passwords to the police but they found nothing in it. “I have never fought with the army … I belong to them.”
The AML chief went on to say that the Murree police investigated him for hours and then alleged that the “entire thing” was done by the Aabpara police. “My police [departments] in Karachi and Lasbela are innocent.”
Here, the judge asked the police if a request for Rashid’s transit remand had been made earlier to which the investigating officer said that this was the first time the police had approached court for it.
Meanwhile, Rashid’s lawyer, Ali Bukhari, informed the court that he was in currently police custody.
“The Murree police’s request for a transit remand has recently been rejected by the magistrate and the police have not yet appealed that decision,” he stated, reiterating that his client was in jail and wouldn’t “run away”.
Bukhari contended that the case against his client was registered by the Murree police. “According to the law, the complainant cannot be a part of the investigation.
“Rashid’s house was raided … the Constitution provides every citizen their fundamental human rights,” he said, continuing that Rashid’s statement regarding being a minister 16 times was harmless.
The lawyer further argued that the relevant judicial magistrate in Murree was on vacation and the police could have waited for him to resume his duties.
“Was the Lahore home secretary, Rawalpindi district commissioner or any other authority informed about Rashid’s arrest,” he asked. “When they have taken everything from my client’s house, why do they need a transit remand?”
Bukhari then urged the court to “take my surety” and reject the police’s request.
At that, the court asked: “Do you have a copy of the court’s verdict rejecting the transit remand?”
Here, the investigating officer said that a verbal order was passed and a written verdict was not issued.
However, Rashid interjected that he had already appeared in the case pertaining to the Murree police. “I was interrogated in jail regarding the case,” he said.
Meanwhile, Rashid’s lawyer Panjhota contended that the investigation in the Murree case could also be conducted in the absence of the AML chief.
“The case framed against my client is illegal,” he said, adding that Rashid was an innocent man and the FIR registered against him was a “joke”.
Panjhota further argued that political revenge was being carried out against Rashid, pointing out that cases with similar charges were registered against him in multiple cities.
“They are only trying to mentally torture him. He is being pressurised to change his statement,” he said. “My client’s life is in danger. If he dies, who will be responsible?”
String of cases
Rashid was arrested on Feb 2 on a complaint filed by Raja Inayatur Rehman — the vice president of PPP Rawalpindi Division — wherein he said that the AML chief, in a television interview on Jan 27, alleged that Zardari got the assistance of some terrorists to plan former prime minister Imran Khan’s murder.
The first information report (FIR) was registered at Islamabad’s Aabpara Police Station under Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
Another case was also registered against him at the Murree police station for manhandling a police official at the time of the arrest. It was registered under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public function) and 506(ii) (criminal intimidation) of the PPC.
Moreover, it emerged the next day that yet another case was lodged against Rashid by Karachi’s Mochko police on the complaint of a local PPP leader for using “extremely filthy and immoral language” against PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while talking to the media outside Islamabad’s Polyclinic Hospital.
The FIR was registered under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 500 (punishment for defamation), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the PPC.
Later, a fourth case was also registered against the AML leader in Balochistan’s Lasbela as per his lawyer’s arguments on Feb 4.
Dear visitor, the comments section is undergoing an overhaul and will return soon.