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June 13, 2016

Educationists among HuT, LeK leaders held in Punjab

Top Story

June 13, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government claimed on Sunday that law enforcement agencies have arrested the entire top and middle level leadership of two key proscribed organisations -- Hizbut Tahrir (HuT) and Lashkar-e-Khurasan (LeK) -- following the operation started after the attack in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park Lahore earlier this year.

In an effort to swiftly execute the National Action Plan (NAP), the law enforcement agencies with the help of Punjab Rangers and intelligence agencies also arrested over 673 hardcore militants who had affiliation with various banned outfits.

Over 67 jet black terrorists were killed in special operations in Multan, Muzaffargarh, Layyah, Dera Ghazi Khan, Sheikhupura and Lahore. “The entire top and middle level leadership of leading proscribed organizations (HuT and LeK) have been arrested,” read an official document prepared by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) forces in Punjab. “Seven top activists of HuT have been arrested with materials against Pakistan Army,” read the official documents exclusively made available to The News.

In more than a dozen consecutive raids, the CTD arrested HuT top leaders Hasan Shirazi, Saad Jhagranvi, Salman Jhagranvi, Asadur Rehman and Dr Iftikhar from various cities of Punjab.

The CTD earlier arrested senior faculty members of the University of Punjab namely Assistant Professors Ghalib, Amir and lecturer Omer , details revealed. Before this, the CTD arrested Naveed Butt, who is now in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Butt has also served as chief spokesperson for HuT in Pakistan. Dr Ahmed is another activist who was arrested by the CTD and now he is said to be in custody of law enforcement agencies. Zahid, another faculty member of the Lahore University of Management Sciences, was arrested by the CTD Punjab on terrorism charges.

On this situation, security analyst Muhammad Amir Rana observed that the HuT has been struggling to push its agenda in Punjab since many years. Despite its attempts in many ways, the organisation could not achieve its respective agendas since decades - however, it is a fact that the organisation was attempting to keep itself relevant in already radicalised society,” he opined.

With arrests of HuT leaders, the CTD Punjab claimed that they have also arrested three associates of Qari Obaidullah, who were operating for Lashkar-e-Khurasan in Basti Malook in Multan. The LeK, Punjab police claimed, has been drawing its strength from Hafiz Gul Bahadur group which enjoyed support in surrounding areas of Dera Ghazi Khan and the regions along the Afghan border, they said. Punjab government announced Rs5 million as head money on Qari Obaidullah, who is also affiliated with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and involved in many attacks in Mianwali, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan.

To execute the NAP successfully, the CTD Punjab got convicted 1,520 suspects in terror-related cases while they arrested over 11,813 militants in combing operations in last five months. The Punjab government registered 85 cases against suspected terrorists involved in terror financing under Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA 1997) since the NAP started, official data revealed. Over 9,002 cases were registered against militants under ‘Punjab Sound System Regulation 2015’ during this period. Police got 2,898 convicted from the courts while 477 were acquitted in this exercise.

Over 1,807 cases were registered under ‘Prohibition of Expressing Matters on Walls (Amendments) Act, 1995’. Some 444 militants were convicted while 138 acquitted during the trial. Over 12,687 cases were registered under ‘Information of Temporary Residents Ordinance 2015’ during this period in Punjab where law enforcement agencies got convicted 3,132 militants. Some 311 suspected militants were acquitted by the courts.  The CTD Punjab with help of local police got registered cases against 2,932 militants under ‘Security of Vulnerable Establishments Ordinance 2015’. Police registered cases against 53,054 suspects under ‘Arms (Amendments) Ordinance 1965’ this year. But surprisingly courts convicted 2,623 militants while they granted acquittal to 406 accused under these laws during the trial.

Similarly, over 492 cases were registered against various clerics who were involved in delivering hate speeches which later fell under ‘Hate Material Cases (295 to 298-C PPC)’ this year. But only 39 clerics were convicted while 79 were acquitted by the courts. Punjab police got registered 187 cases against suspected terrorists under ‘Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960’ as amended in 2015 in various terrorism courts. Only 14 accused were convicted while two got acquittal from the courts.  About poor conviction despite new laws in Punjab, former Sindh Police Chief Afzal Shigri stressed upon reforming the present criminal justice system. “We cannot get desired results until we bring reforms in protection of witnesses and definition of terrorism and militants,” Shigri said.

Spokesperson for Punjab Police Nabeela Ghazanfar said: “New laws helped us to successfully execute NAP. Though it might take time - yes we are doing it sincerely.”