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January 19, 2020

ATC records state complainant’s statement in incendiary speech case

Karachi

January 19, 2020

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday completed the recording of a state complainant’s statement against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leaders in a case pertaining to the controversial speech of MQM founder Altaf Hussain on August 22, 2016.

Police officer Abdul Ghaffar Sindhu is the state complainant in the case who had lodged an FIR against then MQM leadership after the party founder delivered his infamous speech over telephone during a protest campaign outside the Karachi Press Club.

Altaf, who has been living in self-exile in London for almost three decades now, had uttered controversial remarks about the country and allegedly incited his party workers to resort to violence during his speech when his party was staging a demonstration against a ban on his media appearance.

After his speech, rioting broke out in which one person was killed, several injured, and a police vehicle and motorcycle torched allegedly by the charged protestors. Soon after these violent incidents, a crackdown was launched by the authorities against the party.

A large number of then MQM leaders were booked by the police for allegedly abetting the MQM founder and having a role in the violence that ensued after the speech. Many of them have now deserted the party founder and joined the MQM-Pakistan (MQM-P), which was formed after many MQM leaders dissociated themselves from Altaf, and other parties.

Those who have been booked include MQM-P Senior Deputy Convener Amir Khan, Organisation Restoration Committee chief Farooq Sattar, former MQM spokesperson Qamar Mansoor, former MQM MPA Shahid Pasha and MQM-P legal wing leader Gulfaraz Khattak.

At the outset of the hearing, the court heard the cross-examination by the defence lawyers on the complainant. The lawyers asserted that their clients’ implication in the case was politically motivated. The police had booked over 1,500 people in the case and around 60 suspects were arrested.

The ATC after recording the proceedings of the cross-examination adjourned the hearing until February 1 with a direction to the investigation officer to present more witnesses on the next date. The court had previously expressed displeasure at police performance, observing that they were delaying the case.

The case was registered at the Artillery Maidan police station under the sections 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 324, 302, 435, 436, 337, 123A, 124A, 109, 114, 427, 506B and 395 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with the sections 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Altaf has been declared proclaimed offender in the case.