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Clerics booked for inciting violence against female police officer acquitted

By Our Correspondent
June 03, 2020

An anti-terrorism court acquitted on Tuesday three clerics booked for allegedly inciting violence against a female police officer and her team over their attempt to stop a Friday congregation given the COVID-19 lockdown.

The ATC-II exonerated the Haqqani Jamia Masjid’s prayer leader, Maulana Abdul Rehman, and committee members Maulana Qavi Khan and Maulana Zareen Khan of the charges after accepting the ‘A-class’ report from the investigation officer which meant that no evidence was found against the clerics and the perpetrators were at large.

Pirabad SHO inspector Sharafat Khan, intelligence officer sub-inspector Hayat Gul and constable Abdul Samad were wounded as an enraged mob attacked them on April 10. A video of the incident went viral on social media after which the police booked the clerics and over two dozen unknown people under criminal and lockdown violation charges.

Investigation Officer (IO) Inspector Sarfaraz Ali Khawaja in his report said that during the course of the investigation, efforts were made to arrest the suspects. He said three nominated clerics had obtained pre-arrest bail from the court.

He added that four witnesses recorded their statements to the police in which they said that the mosque’s administration committee made an announcement on the loudspeaker, asking worshipers to pray at home but they entered the mosque from the backdoor forcibly.

The report said many people were present in the mosque and listening to the sermon when SHO Khan entered and asked them to pray at home since the government had banned congregations to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In the meanwhile, a scuffle broke out between the police and the worshippers in which the SHO’s glasses broke and she received injuries to her nose, the report said, adding that the clerics remained inside the mosque and neither were they seen fighting with anyone nor did they misbehave with any police official.

The IO recommended that in the light of the circumstances and statements of the impartial witnesses, no evidence was available to establish any cognisable offence on the clerics. Therefore, the charge-sheet in the A-class may be accepted by the court, he requested.

State prosecutor Ali Raza Abbasi also supported the A-class report and requested the judge to accept it. He further contended that primarily the allegation pertained to violation of the lockdown did not fall within the ambit of Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. Subsequently, the judge accepted the A-class report and acquitted them in the case.

The case was registered under Sections 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 147 (rioting), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of common object), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 324 (attempt to murder), 337-A(i) (shajjah-i-khafifah), 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act at the Pirabad police station.