PESHAWAR, Dec 6: Around a dozen unlicensed FM radio stations were taken off the air in Swabi district over the last couple of days for spreading religious hatred.

Also, the administration seized equipment used by these radio stations and booked their owners for illegal activity.

The provincial had taken notice of the illegal operations of illegal FM radio stations in Swabi. There followed the issuance of the provincial home and tribal affairs department’s directions to the local administration to take them all off the air.According to an official of the home department, the administration has launched a crackdown on illegal FM radio stations in the district.

He said no illegal radio station was found in Mardan district, while around a dozen FM radio stations were run in Swabi district.

The official said the administration had revealed that almost all illegal FM radio stations used to air religious messages and these programmes were mostly of different religious schools of thought.

He added that the administration feared that it might cause unrest in the district and might create law and order situation.

Under the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Ordinance, 2002, the authority has the exclusive right to grant licences for the establishment and operation of broadcast media.

It is learnt that until now, Pemra has allowed licences to around 89 commercial and 35 non-commercial radio stations.

According to an official, the running of an unauthorised FM radio station is a crime under Section 33 of the Pemra Ordinance and is punishable up to four years imprisonment.

Due to easy availability of the required equipment, it has become easy for an individual to begin such radio stations, which could air programmes in the radius of few kilometres. Also, the equipment is easy to be shifted from one place to another.

The official said these illegal radio stations remained one of the reasons for increase in militancy in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the adjoining tribal areas.

He said the absconding chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat, Maulana Fazlullah, had begun his activities on low key in the scenic Swat valley and had begun running an illegal FM radio station.

The official said Fazlullah used that radio station to collect heavy donations from the people, including women for his seminary in Imam Dehri area.  he added that such radio stations also operated in Bajaur Agency by militant commander Maulvi Faqir.