Non-bailable arrest warrants have been issued for activist Ammar Rashid and other Awami Workers Party (AWP) members in the sedition case registered against them, that was withdrawn last year.
Ammar Rashid took to Twitter to detail the Islamabad police’s ‘bizzare’ pursuit of the court case, which had been withdrawn in February 2020. Despite the case’s end last year, the police on Monday submitted a challan to the magistrate to continue the trial.
The arrest warrants were issued after Rashid and other AWP members failed to appear to several hearings, for which Rashid claims he was never served notice. The presiding judicial magistrate was seemingly unaware that the case had been withdrawn almost two years prior.
Islamabad police have since appeared before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and declared that they are withdrawing the case and requesting the trial court to cease hearings on this matter. No explanation regarding the reissuing of the arrest warrants was provided.
Ammar Rashid and other AWP members were arrested on sedition charges in January 2020 at a protest against the arrest of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Mazoor Pashteen.
The incident is not the first time sedition charges have been lodged against activists. Earlier this month, 77-year old AWP worker Yousuf Mastikhan was also arrested on sedition charges by Gwadar police during ongoing protests there. In November, 21 students at the University of Sindh were accused of sedition for chanting ‘anti-state’ slogans during a cultural heritage event. Observers say that the colonial-era sedition law is used as a tool in both Pakistan and India to clampdown on dissent.