KARACHI – The Rangers have got a criminal case registered against self-exiled MQM chief Altaf Hussain for allegedly threatening them, dealing a serious blow to the party after the arrest of a large number of its workers during the past few days as per local agencies and papers.
Altaf Hussain reportedly issued a veiled life threat to the Rangers officials who carried out a targeted operation in the wee hours of March 11 at Nine-Zero, the headquarters of the party which has been accused of running a reign of terror in the biggest city of the country for decades.
Rangers Colonel Tahir Mehmood, who led the Nine-Zero raid, lodged an application for an FIR in Civil Lines Police Station on Monday night against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief invoking Section 7 of Anti Terrorism Act and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code for threatening paramilitary force.
Colonel Tahir in his application citied a local news channel programme in which Altaf Hussain allegedly threatened Rangers officials. The applicant quoted Altaf’s statement: “Rangers officers who raided my house “Woh thay nahin, thay hogaye… aur ho jaingay”. Rangers termed the words of MQM chief as life threat to officials of the paramilitary force.
Some of the arrested MQM activists are reported to have made startling disclosures to the investigators about the illegal activities of the leadership, something that may land many more in trouble in the days ahead, depending upon the outcome of further investigations.
While the development brought the MQM leadership on the defensive in view of the likely consequences of the case on the very future of the party, the gravity of the situation lessened after a few hours when PPP leader Asif Zardari made a telephonic contact with Mr Hussain in London and extended an invitation to his party to rejoin the PPP-led setup in Sindh.
Reacting to news of FIR registration, MQM’s Coordination Committee in a press release said that their legal and constitutional experts are examining the case and will draft a legal framework accordingly. “The accusations pinned on the MQM chief are not true,” the statement said. “In the past too, cases were registered against the MQM chief but we faced them,” it added.
The case has been registered following the launch of verbal onslaught by the MQM leadership against security forces of the country, especially the Rangers which is not only actively involved in Karachi operation against criminals but also executed the operation at Nine-Zero.
Heavy contingents of Rangers backed by police conducted a raid at Nine-Zero last Tuesday and arrested over 100 MQM workers and sympathisers including member coordination committee Amir Khan, who the Rangers said was patronising some hardcore criminals that were also arrested in the operation.
Colonel Tahir citied that during the raid at Nine Zero several criminals and suspects including wanted suspects were apprehended from and around the MQM headquarters in Azizabad, besides recovery of a huge cache of weapons and arms/ammunition and explosives. On the abovesaid statement the police registered FIR No 30/ 2015 under Section 506 of PPC that calls for punishment for criminal intimidation as well as Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 that calls for punishment for terrorist acts.
MQM lawmaker Syed Sardar Ahmed while talking to The Nation said that MQM legal team would examine the matter and it would be difficult to say anything prematurely. MQM’s newly elected senator, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif speaking in a TV programme on Tuesday said his party chief did not threaten anyone and his statement was taken out of context. He vowed to fight the case registered against Altaf on every forum.
In a related development, Altaf Hussain’s cousin Aziz Ansari, who was arrested along with others in the Nine-Zero raid, was released by the Rangers on Tuesday. According to the sources, Aziz came out clean in the investigation by the Rangers. Out of over 100 people arrested from Nine-Zero, 23 have so far been released.
SSP Investigation South Faizullah Korijo, when contacted, said that Rangers’ case against Altaf Hussain has been transferred to the police investigation section and a special investigation officer (SIO) has been deputed for the job.
SSP Korijo said that existing sections of law applied in the FIR could be replaced with further stricter or milder sections after the complete investigation of the case.