Dozens of members of Sunni Action Committee continued on Friday their protest against Chiniot police. They were alleging victimisation of their colleagues arrested in terrorism and attempted murder cases.
Provincial Assembly member Maulana Ilyas Chinioti, who led the demonstrations on Thursday as well as Friday, accused the district police officer of favouring members of a Shia group of Rajoa Syedan area in a crackdown in which more than 100 people were arrested from the city on August 16.
According to the FIRs registered with City police the crackdown had followed armed clashes between activists of the Sunni Action Committee and a Shia group in the vicinity of Masjid Siddique Akbar on August 15.
Talking to the media at the demonstration on Friday, the MPA warned that similar demonstrations would be held in all cities of the province if SAC activists were not released ‘immediately’ and those responsible for the armed assault of Masjid Siddique Akbar not arrested by the police.
Chinioti, who sits on the treasury benches in the Punjab Assembly, also threatened to resign his assembly membership if DPO Rana Shehzad Akbar was not suspended from service and another official appointed in his place.
“I will quit the assembly seat and lead a movement against the provincial government if the police do not release Sunni Action Committee men,” he said. Of the 103 men arrested by City police in the crackdown, 81 have been sent to the district jail for two weeks and 22 released on the orders of a judicial magistrate.
The FIRs registered by Station House Officer Ghulam Abbas mentioned 94 activists of SAC and 22 of the Shia group by name. It also included 150 unidentified SAC men and 80 unidentified Shia group.
The FIR said the two groups exchanged fire on the night of August 15 following an dinner at Masjid Siddique Akbar where former Lashkar-i-Jhangvi chief Malik Ishaq was the chief guest.
It said the clash was preceded by a brief exchange of fire between Ishaq’s guards and some members of the Shia group on the former’s way to the mosque. The police later escorted Ishaq out of Chiniot to avert any untoward situation.
Talking to The Express Tribune, DPO Rana Shehzad Akbar rejected the suggestion that the police had favoured the Shia group in their investigations. “We raided the neighbourhood and arrested the people in accordance with the Security Branch report,” he said.
The FIRs mention Sections 290 (punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for), 291(continuance of nuisance after injunction to discontinue), 283 (danger or obstruction in public way or line of navigation), 324 (attempted murder), 148 (rioting) and 149 (illegal assembly) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 9 of the Anti Terrorism Act.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2012.