ISLAMABAD: Mufti Hanif Qureshi and Qari Imtiaz Shah, the two clerics suspected of motivating Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the self confessed killer of former Punjab governor Salmar Taseer, were granted pre-arrest bail against surety bonds worth Rs200,000 by the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Rawalpindi on Thursday.
Police will now be unable to question the two suspects till January 25 despite the fact that they were wanted for investigations to ascertain if they had motivated Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri into killing the Punjab governor.
At the same time, the court directed the two suspects, through their counsel Shuja-ur-Rehman, to cooperate with the police in investigations of the case. The counsel for the suspects argued before the court that his clients were not involved in motivating Qadri.
‘The FIR did not mention their names as well,” Rehman, the counsel for the suspects, pleaded before the court.
He maintained that the two clerics were innocent and complained that they were being harassed by the police. Earlier, the police were denied warrants to arrest the suspects by the court on grounds of incomplete evidence.
It is believed that the investigation team was divided on the actual intentions of the two clerics in motivating Qadri. Some police officials believed the clerics were not directly involved in provoking Qadri into killing governor Taseer. Others thought they were.
‘The investigators had obtained a CD showing Qadri in attendance at Qari Hanif’s sermon on blasphemy. In his speech, the cleric had referred Taseer as a ‘Governor of Yazid’ while comparing him to a governor in Hazrat Umar’s (R.A.) time’ said a police source.
‘He was directly instigating hatred against Taseer which would have motivated Qadri to kill the former governor’ added the official. Police officials close to the investigations, however, said that the two clerics were likely to be acquitted by the court since the evidence against them were not strong enough.
Meanwhile, the capital police seem likely to submit an interim challan against Qadri in court by Saturday. The challan was not complete since the investigations under section 109 could not be concluded, say police officials.
‘Section 109 requires us to arrest and investigate all those people who were directly involved in provoking and motivating the killer’ said an official.
The police officials said they were also waiting for forensic reports and medical examination tests to complete the challan. However, an interim challan showing Qadri’s confession in police custody and his revelations during physical remand will be presented to the court, they added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2011.