Mansehra police arrest JUI-F’s Mufti Kifayatullah
The Mansehra police arrested JUI-F’s Mufti Kifayatullah from his house in Tarangri Sabir Shah Monday night. He has been accused of making controversial remarks against the Pakistan Army.
A heavy contingent of police was deployed outside his house.
The police said that he has been arrested under Section 3 (power to arrest and detain suspected persons) of the Maintenance of Public Order. The law allows the government to detain any person involved in ‘suspicious activities’ for six months.
On December 29, 2020, the federal government decided to take action against the JUI-F leader for criticising state institutions. Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed told 24 News that they have decided to lodge a case against the JUI-F leader for the language he used against the Pakistan Army.
Speaking on a talk show in December 2020, Kifayatullah remarked that army generals should be held accountable for their actions.
The police had raided his house earlier this year.
The firebrand cleric has been arrested for similar charges in the past. He was arrested and confined at Central Jail, Haripur before the JUI-F’s Azadi March in October 2019. The police said that he made several appearances on TV shows and criticised retired army officers for commenting on the country’s politics.
Mansehra DC claimed that he was also found involved in “chanda collection, holding corner meetings and inciting the public for taking part in the Azadi March arranged by JUI-F”. His activities were deemed to pose a “grave threat to public safety”. He was, however, released from the Haripur jail on November 1, 2019 after the high court approved his bail in the case.
On April 16, 2020, he was arrested for making provocative speeches and spreading sectarian hatred while speaking to people at the funeral of Maulana Abdul Aziz. The Baffa police claimed that the JUI-F leader had even violated the coronavirus SOPs. He was released on court orders.
Sheltering Mansehra ‘rapist’
On January 29, 2020 a case was registered against the cleric for obstructing the arrest of a man accused of raping a child at a madrassa.
He was accused of giving shelter to the suspect. The FIR was registered under sections 225 (resistance or obstruction to lawful apprehension of another person) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The child’s family had claimed that Kifayatullah among other JUI-F leaders had been pressuring them to withdraw the case. In response, the cleric’s JUI-F membership was also suspended.
The suspect, Qari Shamsuddin, was accused of raping and beating up a 10-year-old boy at a madrassa in Abbottabad’s Mansehra on December 28, 2020. The police had arrested him the next day from Parhana after he had gone into hiding.
Kifayatullah, his two sons Shabbir Mufti and Hussain Mufti, and friend Jan Mohammad survived an assassination attempt on November 27, 2019.
The cleric was travelling to Mansehra from Islamabad when a group of men intercepted their car on Baidra road and attacked them with sticks and stones.
His aides said that the men attacked him to stop him from criticising them.
Bill criminalises criticism of the armed forces
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior passed a bill on April 7 that criminalises criticism of the Pakistan Army.
The bill proposes amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. It proposes a two-year jail term or Rs500,000 fine or both for anyone who “intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the armed forces of Pakistan”.
Amjad Ali Khan, a PTI lawmaker, tabled the bill.