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Rights activist’s FIR against senator not registered yet

ISLAMABAD: Despite efforts made by rights activist Marvi Sirmed and criticism by politicians and people on social media, a first information report (FIR) was not registered on Sunday against Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) Senator Hafiz Hamdullah, who allegedly misbehaved with Ms Sirmed during a TV talk show on Saturday.

Police attributed the delay in registration of the FIR to their failure to obtain footage of the show they wanted to watch before registering the report. They claimed that according to the standard operating procedure (SOP), the Senate chairman had been informed about the incident.

But Ms Sirmed alleged that police were not cooperating with her and said that she had decided to approach a court to seek registration of her FIR. Moreover, she has also contacted Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani with a request to order an inquiry into the incident.

Riasat Ali Azad, a lawyer of the Supreme Court who specialises in criminal cases, told Dawn that a station house offi cer (SHO) was bound to register an FIR as soon as he received an application. In case of refusal, he said, Ms Sirmed had to submit an application to police high-ups and then she could fi le a petition in the court of a Justice of Peace.

the court of a Justice of Peace. During the show Senator Hamdullah had allegedly tried to attack the rights activist and then hurled threats at her while using abusive language.

Ms Sirmed submitted an application to the Kohsar police station on Saturday, but police did not register an FIR.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority has issued a notice to the TV channel which had broadcast the show, stating that either the show should be cancelled or the channel would have to pay fine. The channel has been directed to respond by June 17.

Talking to Dawn, Ms Sirmed said that prominent leaders of different political parties had contacted her and issued statements in her favour.

“Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Imran Khan, Pervez Rashid (the federal information minister), Samia Raheel Qazi and Nasreen Jalil, among others, have expressed solidarity with me and condemned the incident,” she said.

“I have contacted the Senate chairman through an email and have decided to send him a petition on Monday. Civil society has already sent a petition to him,” she added.

“I have requested the TV channel to provide me footage of its close circuit TV camera which will clearly show how Mr Hamdullah attacked me,” she said. “I have been in touch with police throughout the day, but they told me that they are conducting an investigation.

“I said that according to law, first they should register an FIR and then start investigation, but police said that it was their prerogative to decide about it.”

In reply to a question, Ms Sirmed said a representative of JUI-F said in a video message posted on social media: “In Pakhtoon culture, a bullet is the answer to abusive language.”

In a message posted on social media, Ms Sirmed has requested Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to intervene and ask Islamabad police to register an FIR.

She has also requested JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman to take disciplinary action against Mr Hamdullah and cancel hisparty membership. She called upon Mr Rabbani to constitute a committee in the Senate to investigate Mr Hamdullah’s ‘physical attack’ on her.

However, in a reply sent by a JUI-F representative to Ms Sirmed, it was claimed that Mr Hamdullah was a polite person and though he had got angry during the TV show, he had not tried to attack her.

The JUI-F has requested Ms Sirmed to reconsider her attitude to ensure that such an incident was not repeated.

Rukhsar Mehdi of Kohsar police station said that according to the SOP, it was necessary to inform the Senate chairman about a complaint against a senator. It was done on Sunday.

“We want to watch the footage of the incident before registering an FIR. We contacted the manager of the TV channel on Sunday, but they said as it was a holiday and the footage will be provided on Monday,” he said. “The FIR will be registered after we receive the footage.”

Advocate Azad said that under Section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an SHO was bound to register an FIR if he thought that the issue could be dealt by police.

“In the past in case of delay or refusal by police, people had the option to file a petition in court to seek registration of an FIR. But because of a recent judgement of the Supreme Court now Ms Sirmed has to fi le an application with a senior police officer and then she can file a petition for registration of the FIR in the court of Justice of Peace,” he said.