CHITRAL: The registration of an FIR and subsequent arrest of PTI Chitral leader and social activist Irshad Mukarar is a violation of human rights and an infringement on freedom of expression guaranteed under the Constitution.
In a statement, Human Rights Committee Chitral chairman Niaz A. Niazi Advocate said the arrest of Irshad Mukarar for expressing his fear about the possible arrival of coronavirus in Chitral showed the district administration and police malice and overreaction in disregard to the law of the land.
He said the expression of fear about the disease by Mr Mukarr was based on good intention aimed at the need to take precautionary measures against the virus. But making it a basis for registration of an FIR and arrest of a respectable citizen was against norms of a civilized society.
Mr Niazi said contrary to the content of the FIR, there was no panic or fear spread among the masses due to the post Mr Mukarar on Facebook. On the other hand, his post prompted the district administration, especially the deputy commissioner, to visit the hospital in Drosh and ensure timely treatment of the Chinese national.
It may be noted that on Feb 3, Mr Mukarar through a social media post expressed his apprehension that a Chinese engineer working at the Lavi power project near Drosh had been rushed to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Drosh and he might be a coronavirus case. Though the Chinese man was suffering from a stomach pain, Mr Mukarar expressed the doubt that the patient might be carrying the coronavirus.
He also stated that the government should take all possible measures to scan Chinese nationals coming from their home country before they resume work. This he said in the wake of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Wuhan city of China and the extraordinary steps being taken by Beijing to contain the virus.
The outbreak of the virus also created panic the world over with many countries suspending air services to China.
The next day, the Drosh police registered a case against Mr Mukarar on the charge of spreading rumour about arrival of the virus in Chitral. The FIR claimed that the post had created fears among the people of Chitral.
Mr Mukrar obtained bail before arrest (BBA) from a court in Drosh the same day but on Feb 11 the district and session court in Chitral cancelled the BBA leading to his arrest from the courtroom.
The judge observed that the FIR was registered without any bad intention and hence the BBA is cancelled.