KARACHI: The Karachi Police arrested journalist and social media activist Bilal Farooqi from his residence in Defence View on Friday evening for allegedly spreading hatred and maligning state institutions. Meanwhile, a sedition FIR has been recorded against senior journalist and ex-PEMRA chief Absar Alam in Dina, Jhelum.
Farooqi was arrested by the investigation wing of the Defence police station two days after an FIR was registered against him, charging him with spreading hatred and maligning state institutions.
According to Farooqi’s wife, Tashfeen Farooqi “four persons– two in plainclothes and two in police uniform --came to our home. Our landlord said that the police are surveying the area and checking the CNICs of all.” She said her husband was asleep at that time, and she woke him up. As soon as Farooqi went outside to show his CNIC, they took him away to an undisclosed location.
Meanwhile, an FIR citing sedition charges against the former Pemra chief Absar Alam has been recorded in Dina, Jhelum. The FIR was filed on an application by a lawyer, Khursheed Alam, from Jhelum who has complained that Absar Alam on his twitter account has used derogatory language against state institutions and personalities, dubbing it seditious. He asked that the ex-PEMRA chief be charged under 131 PPC, 124A, 505, 499, 20 PECA, High Treason Section 6.
Reacting to the developments, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the arrest of Karachi-based journalist Bilal Farooqi and sedition case against former PEMRA chairman Absar Alam in baseless, fabricated and concocted allegations, and demanded his immediate release and withdrawal of FIR.
In a statement, PFUJ President Shehzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi, condemning the arrest of Bilal Farooqi on complaint by some unknown person, said it is proof of high handedness of authorities who just want to suppress the media and journalist community.
The PFUJ leadership called for immediate withdrawal of case against Bilal Farooqi lodged by an unknown factory worker who may even not know Bilal Farooqi and that too on flimsy and fabricated charges. They urged the authorities and Sindh government to make arrangements for Farooqi’s release. While condemning the FIR against senior journalist and former PEMRA chairman Absar Alam, the PFUJ leadership warned that such concocted case and malicious trend against journalists community seems to be an agenda being followed by the current government and those elements who have always been against freedom of speech and media. They urged the government to immediately withdraw the FIR against Absar Alam, which clearly indicate that false cases are being registered against vocal journalists and media men.
"If both the fabricated and concocted cases are not withdrawn immediately, then we will be left with the only option to call a strike and protest across the country which may harm the current government and tarnish the image of the country, just because of ill-conceived ideas of the decision makers," the statement said.
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