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Police book head of raided seminary

Police book head of raided seminary

ISLAMABAD: Following a dramatic midnight raid on the Madressah Haqqania that led to at least four arrests on Thursday night, the capital police on Saturday booked the seminary’s administrator under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Maintenance of Public Order, but no arrests were made, officials told Dawn.

Following the raid, Qari Ahsanullah – who is also the khateeb of the adjoining Masjid Qasmia – had delivered a Friday sermon that severely criticised the police action against the seminary. Police had taken at least four men into custody from the seminary. The suspects are said to be linked to the Attock bombing that claimed the life of Punjab home minister Col Shuja Khanzada.

After receiving information about the alleged use of hate speech by the cleric, the Special Branch were asked by the Central Police Office to investigate the issue.

They were also tasked with preparing a report on the khateeb’s more incendiary speeches and recommending legal action against him, sources said. “The Special Branch probe found that the khateeb targeted security forces and the government in the speech and declared them agents of foreign intelligence agencies,” an official told Dawn.

During his speech, he incited the people against the government of the day and used religion to incite them towards violence, according to the FIR lodged against Qari Ahsanullah.

In response to the Special Branch report and their recommendations, a case was registered against Qari Ahsan under ATA 11EE (Proscription of persons) and 16 MPO (Dissemination of rumours). The complaint was lodged by the station house officer of Margalla police station.

Qari Ahsan was already included on a watchlist, under the Fourth Schedule of the ATA, since 2009.

Consequently, he was required to regularly submit surety bonds ensuring his good behaviour, officials said, adding that he had also made a commitment that he would not get involved in promoting sectarian hatred and would respect the state and it departments.

However, the speech on Friday violated his surety bond of good behaviour, which led to the registration of the case against him.

An police officer, on condition of anonymity, told Dawn that although the case had been registered, he had not been arrested.

“We are waiting for directions from the concerned quarters before taking further legal action,” he added.

When Qari Ahsan was asked for comment, he claimed to be unaware that a case had been registred against him. “First I will see if an FIR has been lodged against me and what the charges are and then I will decide what to do,” he told Dawn.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2015

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