Imran Ali Chishti, the man who issued threats to Sikhs and led a mob on Friday that pelted stones at Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, was arrested Sunday and charged with a non-bailable section of Pakistan’s anti-terrorism act.
“The main culprit in #NankanaSahib incident Imran has been arrested FIR # 6/2020 u/s 295A/290/291/ 341/506/148/149, 6 sound system/ 7 ATA has been registered at Nankana Police Station,” Pakistani Punjab CM’s Focal Person (Digital Media) Azhar Mashwani said in a tweet on Sunday night.
The tweet also carried photo of Imran behind bars. In another tweet, Azhar wrote, “For those who don’t know especially Sikh brothers: 7 ATA is a non bailable section under Anti-Terrorism Act.”
Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) president Satwant Singh said, “We are thankful to the government of Pakistan. Now we want that strict punishment be given to Imran as per the sections in the FIR so that no individual dares to disturb the communal harmony between Sikhs and Muslims.”
Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, also known as Gurdwara Janam Asthan, is a site near Lahore where the first Guru of Sikhs, Guru Nanak, was born.
Chishti, a government employee working in the Fisheries Department, is the elder brother of Mohammad Hassan who married a teenage Sikh girl in September last after allegedly abducting and converting her to Islam, triggering a controversy.
On Friday, Chishti claimed police harassment and arrest of their family members over the abduction and conversion issue. He claimed that his brother Hassan was beaten up by police for “lawfully and consensually” marrying the Sikh girl.
According to the FIR, Chishti incited a mob on Friday in the name of religion and threatened to destroy a worship place of a minority community (Gurdwara Janam Asthan) to build a shrine there. “The suspect incited the sentiments of Muslims in order to have settled his family issue and created a law and order situation in the Nankana city,” it said.
Nankana police station Inspector Muhammad Jamil told PTI that Chishti had deliberately misled Muslims in the area against the Sikhs. He also said police patrolling has been increased around all the holy places of the Sikhs in Nankana Sahib.
In a series of tweets, Azhar also said, “The scuffle was between 2 Muslim groups. Nothing to do with Sikh brothers. To save his family members’ skin (the guilty party) Imran tried to create a scene as his family is being victimised due to his brother’s marriage”.
The tweet had link to another set of tweets where on January 3, Azhar had mentioned about the “background” of the Nankana Sahib episode. “Background of this episode: The relatives of this guy Imran (brother of Hassan who eloped Sikh girl) had scuffle with Muslim customers & they beat the customers police took action. Imran started the drama that we r being victimised due to that marriage issue…That marriage issue was resolved in September by Governor Punjab when both parties agreed that girl will decide where to go. Case is in session court and she is in Dar ul Amaan. Nothing to do with today’s episode of vandalism.”
The Sikh girl, Jagjit Kaur, who is the daughter of Tambu Sahib gurdwara (in Nankana Sahib) head granthi Bhagwan Singh, would tell court in next hearing in the case on January 9 whether she wants to be with her paternal family or with Hassan. Jagjit’s family had alleged that six person who were armed, including a woman barged into their house and kidnapped Jagjit, forced her to “embrace Islam and forcibly married her to Hassan” on August 28 last year after renaming her as Ayesha. A case of abduction was registered on the complaint of the family of the girl.
Jagjit’s brother, Surinder Singh, had threatened that family would immolate themselves outside the Governor house on August 31, if Jagjit was not returned to the family. A video, however, appeared on social media where Jagjit while answering questions, probably at the time of getting married, purportedly said that she embraced Islam out of her own will, and was getting married on her own will. On the directions of the court, on August 29, Jagjit was sent to a shelter home in Lahore, where she continues to put up.
As per Jagjit Kaur’s counsel Sheikh Sultan, Hassan’s mother was among those booked in the abduction case. Sultan, however, said the abduction FIR was quashed later. According to Sultan, Hassan’s father retired from a “clerical” post from a body which takes care of the administration of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib.
The family of Jagjit approached court saying that she was minor and produced her school certificate to claim that she was 15 year and nine month old. “But, as per a government record she was 19 years. On the directions of the court, her bone ossification test was conducted under the supervision of Medical Superintendent which showed that she was between 18 and 19 years of age. So girl’s parents’ plea was dismissed by court,” said Sultan.
He added that Jagjit had moved an application in the court seeking that she be “freed” from shelter home the hearing for which is on January 9.
Meanwhile, when asked if Hassan and any other members of his family were detained too, Inspector Jamil said: “We have only arrested Chishti as he is the main suspect misleading the people in the name of religion.”
(With PTI Inputs)
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