An Islamabad anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday granted police one-day physical remand of Siddique Jan, a journalist affiliated with Bol News, who was apprehended last night in connection with the violence and rioting that erupted outside the Federal Judicial Complex (FJC) when former premier Imran Khan attended a hearing related to the Toshakhana case.
Hours-long clashes were reported between PTI workers and the capital police on Saturday after the former prime minister arrived at the FJC to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case.
Jan, the Islamabad bureau chief of Bol News television channel, was picked up from his office by the police yesterday and taken away in a private vehicle to an undisclosed location.
A police officer told Dawn yesterday that a case was likely to be registered against him upon the instructions of a senior officer. Jan’s arrest comes after a video was shared on social media purportedly from the same day clashes took place at the FJC.
Islamabad police said on Tuesday that Jan had been arrested in connection with a case filed at the CTD Police Station regarding the FJC “arson and siege”.
“Siddique Jan will be presented in court in time,” the ICT said in a tweet, without specifying the timeframe.
Later in the day, police presented Jan in an Islamabad ATC where Judge Jawad Abbas presided over the hearing. At the outset of today’s proceedings, the investigating officer (IO) requested the court to grant police 10-day physical remand of Jan.
“There is a video where he can be seen stopping a policeman,” the IO said, adding that officials also had to conduct “a photo grammatic test and recover shells”.
He also read out the first information report (FIR) registered against Jan.
Judge Abbas asked on what basis police were requesting 10-day remand of the journalist. At this, the prosecutor said Jan stopped police personnel from carrying out their official duty.
“The police officer in the video is an employee of the Islamabad police,” the IO said. “Jan stopped the police from firing a (teargas) shell”.
Presenting his arguments, Jan’s lawyer Advocate Mian Ali Ashfaq said the charges were bailable. “My client’s case doesn’t merit Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act,” he contended.
Ashfaq said his client’s name was not mentioned anywhere in the FIR. “He (Jan) was 50m away from the judicial complex at a plaza,” the lawyer said. “If what can be seen in the video is a crime, it’s a moment of shame for the state”.
Advocate Ashfaq told the court that in the video circulating on social media, Jan can be heard telling officials to refrain from firing tear gas shells.
The government lawyer requested time from the court because Jan had to be taken to Lahore for a forensic test.
“You have one hour. Complete it,” Judge Abbas replied.
The government lawyer pleaded that more time was required as officials had to go to Lahore. At this, the judge questioned why Jan had to be taken to Lahore when he was accepting everything that happened in the video circulating on social media.
The lawyer replied by saying that officials had to carry out voice matching.
At this, Jan’s lawyer interjected and said his client had “confessed the truth”. “There is nothing more to it,” he said.
“The case they have made out of a video is not admissible,” Advocate Ashfaq said. “Watch the video once and tell me if a crime was committed”.
The court asked if the video was complete to which Ashfaq replied in the affirmative, adding that the case was built on political motives.
After hearing arguments of both the sides, the court granted police one-day physical remand of the journalist.
Jan accuses PML-N of spreading propaganda
On Monday, Jan took to Twitter, vowing that he would reveal the truth about the video being attributed to him.
In his tweet, he accused Maryam Nawaz and the entire social media of the PML-N of spreading propaganda. He promised to present evidence that “would expose the false narratives” they were creating, and pointed out that these narratives often end up backfiring on those who create them.
He also called upon users to send him the profile links of individuals who had used the video to falsely blame him. Jan said he intended to send FIA notices to all of them, including the PML-N vice president.
The capital police had on Sunday lodged a first information report (FIR) — including terrorism charges — against PTI Chairman Imran Khan and more than a dozen people at the CTD Police Station for allegedly attacking police officers and causing chaos outside the Federal Judicial Complex.
The complaint invoked sections 148 (rioting, armed with a deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 380 (theft in dwelling house, etc), 395 (punishment for dacoity), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage to amount of one hundred rupees), 440 (mischief committed after preparation made for causing death or hurt) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.