Express News anchor booked for sedition on gutka seller’s complaint

THATTA/ HYDERABAD: The police in Thatta on Sunday lodged a case against ExpressNews anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan for a range of offences, including criticising state institutions and abetting mutiny.

The journalist was booked at Thatta’s Dhabeji police station under Sections 131 (incitement to mutiny), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 452 (trespassing) and 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

According to the first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the complainant had heard Imran Riaz allegedly “fuming” against the army and the institutions in a “derogatory and provocative language” on social media.

“I am a patriotic citizen and I am shocked and hurt by the manner in which anchor Imran Riaz Khan has spoken on social media against Pakistan Army and state institutions,” the FIR read.

Shady criminal record

Interestingly, according to the record with the Thatta’s police itself, the complainant, who identified as Aashiq Ali Qureshi, is a gutka seller and has been booked for the same under relevant sections on at least 10 several occasions over the past seven years.

The Express Tribune accessed the record which showed that from 2015 to 2022, ten cases have been registered against the man in several police stations across the district for selling hazardous chewing tobacco.

He has faced cases under Sections 270 of Pakistan Penal Code (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), Section 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life)

The record exposed that a case was also registered against him under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty).

Moreover, it was noticed that the application was conspicuously incomplete and “dubious” as the man had neither shared his complete address nor his phone number.

‘Political retaliation’

Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan condemned the filing of FIRs against the journalists and branded it “political retaliation”. He alleged that the government was behind the “fake FIRs” and said it was “absolutely unacceptable.

It is pertinent to note that the case against ExpressNews anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan is the latest in a series of FIRs spawning across the country, levying similar charges including sedition.

The consistent pattern has elicited alarms from the journalists and rights activists who allege that the “tactic” is being employed to limit free speech and chill news reporting.

A day earlier, a spate of mysterious first information reports (FIRs) emerged against journalists – Arshad Sharif, Sabir Shakir and Sami Ibrahim – on Saturday over charges of sedition and peddling an “anti-state” narrative.

The FIRs, filed by residents of the districts, alleged that the journalists were stoking anti-national sentiments by maligning Pakistan Army and state institutions.

A case against ARY News anchor Arshad Sharif was registered at a B-section police station in Hyderabad. However, the Lahore High Court (LHC) granted him protective bail.

Another FIR in Dadu, registered on Friday under PPC Sections 131, 153 and 505, mentioned Sharif and fellow ARY News journalist Sabir Shakir.

It said that “derogatory language” was directed at state institutions, adding that the two were inciting people against the army and state institutions.


Source: Express Tribune

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