LAHORE  -    Anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala on Friday awarded jail terms to three members of the Jaish-e-Muhammad group on charges of collecting donations.

According to Punjab’s counterterrorism department, the suspects were sentenced to five years jail each in three different cases registered against them with the Gujranwala CTD police over funds collection for the banned outfits.

The suspects were arrested by CTD police during a raid in Gujranwala last month. The CTD police also seized cash from the arrested suspects. Later, they were produced and tried in the anti-terrorism court.

The Gujranwala anti-terrorism court handed five years and imposed a fine of Rs 45,000 on Muhammad Iftikhar while Muhammad Ajmal was sentenced to five years with Rs 50,000 fine. Similarly, the third suspect Bilal was handed five years jail with Rs 50,000 fine. The convicts were then shifted to the Gujranwala Central Jail.

Last week, a CTD spokesman said the counterterrorism department launched province-wide crackdown against those involved in collecting donations on behalf of banned organisations. “No member of any proscribed organisation will be allowed to collect funds for financing terrorism and extremism,” the spokesman warned. He said the suspects would be tried in anti-terrorism courts.

The CTD arrested several members of banned outfits Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi during successful raids in Lahore, Gujranwala, Multan, and Rawalpindi. The CTD police also registered cases against the arrested suspects on the charges of collecting donations.

Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Sumsam Bukhari, last week, claimed that operation against banned outfits started on March 4 in which the Punjab government remained ahead of the other provinces.

He said the operation against facilitators of terror outfits would continue across the province. “During the operation, those affiliated with banned outfits and outfits blacklisted by the United Nations, their accounts and assets, mosques, seminaries, schools, hospitals and dispensaries will be taken into official custody,” he said.

All the assets of banned outfits whose number is 581 will be taken into official custody and administrators have also been appointed and their control has been handed over to Health Department and Education Department. The provincial minister said that all those working in these departments are given regular salaries. Besides all printing presses are strictly monitored so that no material can be published regarding banned outfits. The minister also warned that if any printing press is found involved in illegal pursuits then strict action will be taken against it. “According to recent information; a few elements are collecting funds for banned outfits in different areas,” Sumsam Bukhari had stated while addressing press conference in Lahore. The CTD has arrested all those elements by conducting raids, he claimed.

The minister urged general public to give timely information about such elements that collect funds on behalf of banned outfits. He said that operation against banned outfits under National Action Plan will continue till the completion of the targets. He said that Punjab government is ready to implement federal government’s orders across the province all the time without any hesitation.