LAHORE - As PAT chief Dr Tahirul Qadri has intensified his political onslaught against the PML-N government, police have booked him on charges of ‘waging war against the state’, hurling threats and inciting violence – all non-bailable offences.
The police investigators are waiting for the government orders as far as arrest of the accused is concerned,” a top police officer told to TheNation on Wednesday. The First Information Report (FIR) was registered with Data Darbar police station on the complaint of a local citizen, he added.
Police sources revealed that the FIR (No 304/14) was registered under Sections 506 and 121 of the PPC, and 7ATA against Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) chief, after he addressed a press conference at the Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town the other day.
If convicted, the different sections of criminal and terrorism laws applied in the case could result in life imprisonment or even death penalty to Dr Qadri. Interestingly, Section 121 of PPC (Pakistan Penal Code), was also applied in the case of Ajmal Qasab for his alleged role in 26/11 Mumbai attack.
On Wednesday evening, Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood told reporters in Lahore that the case had been registered against Tahirul Qadri for inciting violence and promoting anarchy. The Punjab government consulted legal experts before ordering registration of a criminal case. Official sources say that Qadri’s public sermons and statements come under the ambit of civil disobedience, which is why a case was registered against him.
The PAT chairman used abusive language against the political leadership and also incited the people to come to streets to topple the regime. While talking to reporters on Wednesday in Lahore, Dr Qadri also claimed that the PML-N government would stand removed by September 1.
Reacting sharply, PAT warned to halt Pakistan from Karachi to Khyber if the authorities arrested their leader. The supporters of Dr Qadri gathered outside the Lahore Press Club (LPC) on Wednesday evening and staged a protest demonstration and chanted slogans against the government, warning to spread the protests to the whole country if the FIR is not quashed.
According to a private TV report, PAT’s central leaders Umar Riaz Abbasi and Amir Fareed in a press conference in Islamabad said government is fearful of PAT revolution and lists of their workers were being prepared for arrests. They said PAT leaders have directed their families to strictly deal with policemen and even “fire bullets” if they try to violate the sanctity of their houses.
The FIR against Qadri was registered on complainant of one Khursheed, who in his application referred to a speech of the cleric which had been broadcast by almost all the news channels. According to him, the speech hurt his feelings. When asked why the case was registered with the Data Darbar Police when the press conference was held in Faisal Town Police limits, a police officer explained that complainant was a resident of Mohni Road that falls in Data Darbar Police jurisdiction.
Since the Canada-based cleric landed in Lahore, he had been threatening to overthrow the PML-N led democratic government by using street power. While referring to Model Town killings, the PAT chief in his press conference urged his followers to avenge the killings of PAT workers, saying “hands for hands, eyes for eyes, and murder for murder”. According to some news reports, decision to lodge FIR against Qadri was taken in a PML-N meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Following is the brief description of the sections of the law which have been invoked in the FIR. Section 121 of Pakistan Penal Code-PPC: Waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan. Whoever wages war against Pakistan, or attempts to wage such war, or abets the waging of such war, shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.
Section 506 of PPC (Punishment for criminal intimidation): Whoever commences the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both. If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc. And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute un-chastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.
Section 7 of the anti-terrorism act (ATA) 1997 (Terrorist Act): A person is said to commit a terrorist act if he commits an act of civil commotion, which means creation of internal disturbances in violation of law or intended to violate law, commencement or continuation of illegal strikes, go-slows, lock-outs, vehicles snatching or lifting, damage to or destruction of state or private property, random firing to create panic... or wall-chalking intended to create unrest or fear or create a threat to the security of law and order.