ISLAMABAD: The chief commissioner and the senior superintendent of Islamabad police have refused to remove the name of Abdul Aziz, the former Lal Masjid Khateeb, from the fourth schedule of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA).
They have argued that the cleric not only created security issues but also tried to demoralise the army.
This argument was presented in their response submitted to the Islamabad High Court, which is hearing a petition from the cleric asking that his name be removed from the fourth schedule.
The fourth schedule is a section of the ATA under which some one who is suspected of terrorism is kept under observation; it is mandatory for him to register his attendance with the local police regularly. The federal government on August 3, 2005, had put Maulana Abdul Aziz on the fourth schedule for his alleged anti-state activities.
The notification stated, “The chief commissioner Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) has received information that Maulana Abdul Aziz, resident of Lal Masjid, is affiliated with and involved in activities related to the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which had been banned by the federal government in 2002.”
However, the issue is now being heard in the IHC and the chief commissioner and SSP Islamabad told the court that the petitioner’s (Maulana Aziz) “anti-state activities are well known in Islamabad Their response adds that, “the petitioner continued anti-state activities after placing his name in the fourth schedule and finally he created major law and order situation in the capital city in… 2007” because of which the “Army had to be summoned under the relevant provisions of the constitution”.
Among other charges, the response states, “On February 22, 2004 petitioner convened a meeting of prominent Ulemas in Lal Masjid and a ‘Fatwa’ was issued against the Pakistan Army on carrying out “Wana” operation against terrorists.”
The two officers describe the ‘Fatwa’ as “seditious in nature” that demoralised the armed forces.
The reply says that Maulana Aziz was removed from the position of Lal Masjid Khateeb after he admitted signing the ‘Fatwa’.
It alleged that Maulana Aziz challenged the writ of the government by establishing a state within state; announcing the establishment of a Shariah Court (SC) and inviting people to approach it; kidnapping local residents and foreign nationals as well as forcibly shutting down markets.
The document also says that from 2000 to 2007, 40 cases were registered against the cleric in various police stations for delivering hate speeches against the government.
The reply pointed out that Maulana Aziz’s name was placed on the fourth schedule and legally he was allowed to challenge the decision within a year; the “request is time barred” now.
The chief commissioner as well as SSP Islamabad requested the court, “that the writ petition may kindly be dismissed”.
In his petition, Maulana Aziz, through his counsel Qari Wajihullah Advocate, had claimed that he had no link with any proscribed organisation.
He added that a person could be placed on the schedule for three years while his name had been there for almost eight years.
The petition also claimed that Aziz was not informed of being placed on the fourth schedule till last year.
It claimed that police officers raided Jamia Hafsa on August 12, 2013 to arrest Aziz but he was not at home. The police officials then told the Jamia Hafsa administration that Aziz had been placed on the fourth schedule and had to go to the police station to register his attendance.
The petition claimed that before this, Aziz had never been told that his name was in the schedule and he had never been asked to visit the police station.
It may be mentioned that though there were 44 cases registered against the cleric but the police pursued 27 cases in the courts. Because of the flawed prosecution, the courts last year acquitted the cleric in all these cases.