Anti-Terror court declares Khadim Rizvi and gang proclaimed offenders

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Faizabad sit-in: ATC declares Khadim Rizvi, others proclaimed offenders

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Tuesday declared firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi as well as three other leaders of his Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) proclaimed offenders after they did not turn up to stand trial in cases pertaining to November 2017 Faizabad sit-in.

The ATC Judge Shahrukh Arjumand declared Rizvi, Pir Afzal Qadri, Maulana Anayat and Shaikh Azhar as proclaimed offenders in three cases registered against them at Islamabad’s Aabpara police station.

The court had initiated proclamation under section 87 (proclamation for person absconding) against Rizvi and others after they failed to appear before the court to face the cases lodged against the clerics and protestors. Earlier, the ATC had declared them absconders.

The 21-day-long sit-in by the TLP at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange had forced the government to accept its demand to sack law minister Zahid Hamid, who, the protestor accused, was responsible for a controversial change in the oath of lawmakers avowing finality of prophet-hood.

The sit-in ended after the army brokered a deal between the clerics and federal government in the wake of a botched up government operation to remove the sit-in.

According to the deal sign by the Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and the TLP leaders on November 27, the government was to take back all cases against the TLP leadership. However that did not happen.

The court officials revealed that the court had earlier issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Rizvi and others after they did not respond to various summons. The prosecutor, Shafqaat Chaudhry, had informed the court that despite service of various summons, the clerics had not appeared.

Requesting that a proclamation process be initiated, he had told the court that the police could not execute the arrest warrants since the whereabouts of these clerics were not known.

On Tuesday, the police submitted its report before the court stating that they had pasted proclamation posters at the relevant places but the suspects had not surrendered before the court. The police then requested the court to declare them proclaimed offenders, which was accepted.

The court then directed the prosecution to issue proclamation for Rizvi and other leaders of the TLP.

By Rizwan Shehzad

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