A day after all eight Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges received letters laced with a suspicious toxic chemical, four Supreme Court (SC) and as many Lahore High Court (LHC) judges on Wednesday also received letters.

According to the complaint registered, the letters received by the apex court judges were also powder-laced, like the ones sent to the IHC judges. However, a senior official refrained from commenting on the nature of the missives received by the LHC judges.

On Tuesday, letters were delivered to the IHC judges in white envelopes sealed with cello-tape. The names of the judges and the address of the IHC were written on the envelopes. Sources said the letters had carried a threatening sign and accused the judges of being responsible for problems faced by the people of Pakistan.

The staff of two judges had opened the envelopes and found a suspicious powder inside. The matter was reported to the IHC registrar who summoned the police staff deputed for security of the high court, after which a case was registered under Section 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

According to the first information report (FIR), the letters were received on April 1 and distributed on Tuesday by naib qasid Ikram Ullah. Eight letters addressed to IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Aamer Farooq and other judges were also delivered to their personal secretaries, it added.

The letters were issued with the incomplete address of the sender, the FIR said. The letters while giving reference to Tehreek-i-Namoos Pakistan criticised the justice system, it said, adding that a particular photo and English word “Bacillus Anthracis” were included in the letters for the threat.

The anthrax germ Bacillus Anthracis sickens and causes death by proliferating in the bloodstream, where it releases powerful toxins. Infection is usually treated by a long course of antibiotics.

Some of the police officials who had come into contact with the powder faced side effects, including irritation, the sources had added.

Today, Islamabad Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) (Operations) Syed Shahzad Nadeem Bukhari informed CJ Farooq during a hearing that letters were also received by LHC judges and four SC judges.

An FIR pertaining to the apex court incident was registered at the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) police station on the complaint of Mohammad Iqbal Khan, the in-charge of the SC’s Receipt and Issue Department. The case was registered under PPC Section 507 and ATA Section 7.

In the FIR, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the complainant said that the mail was received on March 29 or 30 through the post office and was subsequently dispatched and received by the personal secretaries of the SC judges after inspection.

He said that today the administration in-charge called him and pointed out that in four letters, addressed to Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and three other judges, “a white powder-like chemical” was present.

He said three of the letters were sent by Gulshad Khatun, from an “unknown address”, and the fourth was sent by Sajjad Hussain, who also had an “unknown address”.

Khan said the police were immediately alerted about the matter to take action against the two individuals, saying they had attempted to spread “fear and harassment”.

The FIR went on to say that the police reached the apex court around 12:30pm and seized the four opened letters from Khan. It added that a mixture of white powder was found on the letters, further saying that a police team arrived to conduct an initial analysis of the substance.

The FIR said the content of the letters referred to Tehreek Namoos-i-Pakistan, criticised the judicial system and used the word “Bacilus Anthracis” to issue a threat.

Separately, Lahore DIG Operations Ali Nasir Rizvi said four letters had been received by the high court’s judges and the investigation was ongoing while speaking to Dawn.com today from inside the LHC premises. He said that other courts were also being checked.

He said that he and Lahore Capital City Police Officer Bilal Siddique Kamyana also met LHC Senior Puisne Judge Justice Shujaat Ali Khan regarding the matter and fully briefed him on it.

Rizvi said the letters were handed over to the Counter-Terrorism Department for investigation.

The DIG refused to elaborate on the nature of the letters or to which judges they were sent, saying that it was “too early” to share anything since the matter was under investigation.

He said a meeting with specialists and experts was scheduled for today which would discuss all aspects of the incident, after which information would be released to the media.

Investigation on IHC letters

During a hearing on appeals against the convictions of PTI founder Imran Khan and former diplomat Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the cipher case, IHC CJ Aamir Farooq summoned the Islamabad police chief and senior superintendent of police (SSP) (operations) over the letters.

DIG Bukhari and CTD SSP Humayun Hamza subsequently appeared in court, with the former saying no one had assumed charge as Islamabad police chief as yet and he was looking after all operations instead.

He said the chemical substance found in yesterday’s letters was sent for an analysis and the report would arrive in three to four days.

The DIG was questioned about where the letters were posted from, to which he replied that the stamp was not legible. He also informed the court that LHC judges and four SC judges had received letters today.

The chief justice remarked that the police were focusing on the stamp. He asked the DIG whether the letters to the IHC judges were from the same post office, to which the police official replied that the stamp was faded but a stamp of Rawalpindi was legible.

At this, the two police officials were asked if they had looked at the envelopes. SSP Hamza said they looked to be from the Rawalpindi general post office. He added that the envelopes were not posted from the post office but dropped in a letterbox.

The SSP said that CCTV footage of the letterbox and further information from the area of its location were also being retrieved. “The investigation continues in this regard,” he said.

The police officials informed the judges that a committee had also been formed to investigate the matter.

“You filed a case, what is the progress so far?” CJ Farooq questioned to which DIG Bukhari said samples had been sent to a laboratory for testing.

Tehreek Namoos-i-Pakistan

In September last year, the Bomb Disposal Squad had recovered a bag containing three grenades, a pistol and an alleged threatening letter on the capital’s Trail 5.

The threatening letter from the unknown outfit Tehreek Tahaffuz Namoos-i-Pakistan was addressed to judges and generals. A map, having information about important buildings in the federal capital, was also found in the bag.

The letter found in the bag had stated that the situation in Pakistan was worsening with inflation rising without a check and the then-caretaker government had become a slave of the International Monetary Fund while generals were continuously interfering in politics.

“The justice system of the country has been rotten and brain drain is on its peak. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are hopeless. We have decided to teach a lesson to judges and generals,” the letter had stated.

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