Four blasphemy suspects handed over to FIA

Published: April 8, 2017
A division bench headed by Justice Aamer Farooq rejected the application. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

A division bench headed by Justice Aamer Farooq rejected the application. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) granted a 10-day physical remand of four suspects to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for allegedly being involved in publishing blasphemous material on social media.

ATC-I Judge Syed Kausar Abbas Zaidi handed over the custody of the suspects to FIA and ordered medical examination of the suspects after they were produced before the court.

Three of the suspects had already served seven-day physical remand and produced on its expiry, while one suspect was handed over to the investigators for the first time.

Officials said that the suspects were arrested on suspicion of sharing and spreading blasphemous content via social media.

The newly-arrested man, said to be a professor working at a local college, denied his involvement in the case.

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He maintained that he was in no way connected with the blasphemous content and one of his videos, which allegedly included blasphemous content, had been uploaded on social media by someone after editing.

Earlier, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui observed that availability of blasphemous material on social media had directly affected the integrity, security and defence of Pakistan and all institutions needed to rise to the occasion to protect the country’s ideological and geographical frontiers.

On March 22, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) was informed that an FIR No 07/2017 was registered with FIA under sections 295-A, 295-B, 295-C, 298, 298-A, 298-B, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with Section 11 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016 and Sections 6(f), 7(h), 8 & 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

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Also, the IHC ordered the authorities concerned to include sections relating to blasphemy and pornography in the Cyber Crimes Act and to enquire about NGOs operating in Pakistan with an agenda to spread blasphemous content and promote pornography.

Justice Siddiqui also ordered that the country’s top leadership needed to become proactive on the issue for raising a national ‘firewall’, enabling Pakistan to monitor Pakistan’s entire internet traffic and all users.

Moreover, IHC ordered registration of cases against alleged blasphemers, constitute a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), place culprits’ names on the Exit Control List (ECL) and utilise state machinery, if needed, to remove blasphemous content from social media.

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