On Friday, a Pakistani journalist with the Express Tribune named Bilal Farooqi was arrested by the Defence police from Defence Housing Authority (DHA) neighbourhood area in Karachi.
Complainant alleges ‘defamation of Pakistan army’, demands action
As per reports, Bilal was taken into custody by the Station Investigating Officer (SIO) under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) Sections 500 (defamation) and 505 (public mischief). Besides, charges were also pressed against the journalist under Sections 11 and 12 if the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016. The development was confirmed by the Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon.
A First Information Report (No. 613/2020) was registered against Bilal on Septemeber 9 on the basis of a complaint by one Javed Khan who alleged that the Express Tribune journalist had shared ‘highly provocative posts’ against the Pakistan army and spread religious hatred.
The complainant, a machine operator in a factory at Landhi, alleged that on September 9, he discovered ‘highly objectionable posts made by Bilal on Facebook and Twitter. Khan sought legal action against the journalist under the pretext that his posts could be misused for ‘nefarious designs’ by ‘hostile elements’.
Cops confiscate the phone of the Pakistani journalist
While speaking on the issue, independent journalist Ebad Ahmed informed that Bilal Farooqi was detained by two men in plainclothes who were accompanied by two other police officers. “Two men in plainclothes accompanied by two policemen have taken Bilal into custody from his home,” Ahmed tweeted. He further added that the police had confiscated his phone.
Ahmed wrote, “Police re-visited Bilal’s home. The officials told his wife that he is detained at a police station in Defence. Police have taken possession of Bilal’s phone.”
Police re-visited @bilalfqi’s home. The officials told his wife that he is detained at a police station in Defence. Police have taken possession of Bilal’s phone.— Ebad Ahmed (@ebadahmed) September 11, 2020
Journalists’ Union condemn the arrest of the News Editor of Express Tribune
In a statement on Friday evening, the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) condemned the high-handedness of the law enforcement and added that it was an attempt to curb ‘free and independent voices’. The statement read, “Bilal Farooqi, an active journalist who also remained executive committee of the KUJ, has been an educated and responsible youth, who never indulged in any kind of violation of Pakistani laws.”
Secretary-General (KUJ), Ahmed Khan Malik, demanded immediate release of the Express Tribune journalist and withdrawal of ‘false charges.’ The President of the Union, Ashraf Khan emphasised, “”His only crime is that he dissents with ruling elites and raises his voice for the betterment and a progressive society,””