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ATC asks FIA to arrest complainant, witnesses

ATC asks FIA to arrest complainant, witnesses

ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the complainant and two witnesses after they failed to appear before the court in a case pertaining to the availability of blasphemy content on social media.

The ATC Judge, Shahrukh Arjumand, directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to arrest and produce the complainant, Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmed, and two witnesses, Roman Ahmed and Ammar Yasir, in the court on January 8.

The complainant is an office-bearer of the Shuhada Foundation of Pakistan which came into existence after the Lal Masjid military operation.

Earlier, the FIA submitted a charge-sheet against four suspects facing charges of publishing blasphemous material on social media.

FIA, court sources said, filed a forensic report about the blasphemous content as part of its charge-sheet.

So far, FIA arrested four suspects for their involvement in the case who are all in jail on judicial remand.

FIA registered an FIR No 07/2017 under sections 295-A, 295-B, 295-C, 298, 298-A, 298-B, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 11 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, (PECA), 2016, and Sections 6(f), 7(h), 8 & 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, ‪on March 19.

These suspects had been arrested on suspicion of sharing and spreading blasphemous content on social media. Earlier, the ATC dismissed a bail plea filed by one of the suspects, said to be a college professor.

Earlier, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) while hearing a petition on a blasphemy case observed that availability of blasphemous material on social media had direct bearing on national integrity, security and defence.

Justice Siddiqui said that all institutions needed to work together to protect the country’s ideological and geographical boundaries.

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