DROSH: Social and political activist Irshad Mukarar on Tuesday obtained pre-arrest bail (BBA) from a local court after the Drosh police registered a coronavirus rumour case against him on the charge of “spreading rumour about hospitalization of a Chinese national with suspected coronavirus at the THQ hospital.”
Mr Mukarar said he was in the hospital and present in front of the emergency ward when a Chinese engineer working in the Lavi power project was brought in. After embarking from the vehicle on the premises of the hospital, the Chinese fell down.
The Chinese national was immediately picked by security guards accompanying him and other people and taken to a bed inside the emergency.
“Being a responsible citizen and keeping in view the outbreak of the coronavirus in China and fears spreading in the world about its possible spread, I became worried and stressed the need to immediately diagnose the illness of the Chinese national and carry out check-up of all Chinese workers returning from leave before they start work here,” he said.
But, he added, the allegations that he spread rumour and created unrest among the people were baseless. He expressed the hope that court would provide justice to him keeping in view his intention behind expression of the fears about the patient.
The coronavirus rumour case was registered against Mr Mukarar after Additional Assistant Commissioner Drosh Abdul Haq sent a complaint to the deputy commissioner and the district police officer (DPO) of Lower Chitral.
The complaint said on Feb 3, a Chinese national working on the construction of a a hydro-power project came to the hospital with the complaint of stomach pain. The patient was given medicine after which he got stabilized and was later sent home.
He said the Chinese national had arrived in Pakistan much before the spread of the coronavirus in Wuhan municipality of China and there was no possibility of him carrying the coronavirus, he added.
“But while the patient was in the hospital, Mr Irshad without authority took his photographs and uploaded on social media claiming that a suspected coronavirus patient had been admitted to the THQ hospital.”
This created unrest among the people, said the AAC, requesting registration of a case.
On the direction of the DPO, the Drosh police registered a case against Mr Mukarar under section 16 of Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and 25 of the Telegraph Act.
Meanwhile, former bureaucrat Sultan Wazir Khan said law appears to have been misused by the district administration Lower Chitral in registering the case.
“Facts on ground don’t warrant application of 16 MPO as there was no public unrest. Again, Section 25 of Telegraph Act has wrongly been applied here. By applying these provisions of law, the commissioner Malakand Division, the deputy commissioner Lower Chitral and his subordinates have violated Article 4 of the Constitution of Pakistan.”
He also said SHO Drosh ignored Section 220 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 1860 and Articles 156, 157 and 172 of Police Order 2002.