KARACHI  -  An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) will frame charges against Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leaders and workers in cases pertaining hate speeches, on September 8.

The ATC conducted hearing on two identical cases pertaining to anti-state speeches allegedly delivered by MQM founder on August 22, 2016 outside the Karachi Press Club that triggered a violent protest, arson attacks and ransacking of media houses.

MQM-Pakistan chief Dr Farooq Sattar, Amir Khan, Qamar Mansoor, Khawaja Izhar, Sathi Ishaq, Kanwar Naveed Jameel, Rauf Siddiqui, Rehan  Hashmi and others appeared in the court.

However, Faisal, one of the accused, did not appear before the court. His lawyer submitted an application for exemption by stating that his client was not feeling well.

The court expressed annoyance at the absence of the accused and remarked that despite passing of two years the charges could not be framed against the accused.

The court made it clear that such negligence will not be tolerated in future and also directed the accused to make sure their appearance at the next hearing. The court also fixed the next date for framing charges.

The accused, who got bail, have been warned by the court that their bail will be cancelled if they fail to appear in the next hearing. The court also directed the prosecution to provide required copies of the other cases pertaining to hate speeches to the accused.

The court repeated non-bailable warrants for the arrest of Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Khush Bakht Shujaat, Salman Mujahid and some other party leaders.

They have been declared absconders in two main cases registered at the Quaidabad Police Station after a highly provocative speech by the MQM founder.

In the last hearing, the investigating officer had submitted final charge sheets, mentioning Altaf Hussain, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Rashid Godil, Haider Abbas Rizvi, Salman Mujahid and others as absconders.

Earlier, the court had recorded a statement of the investigating officer, who expressed his inability to execute the bailable warrants issued earlier. He directed the IO to arrest them and produce them in court at the next date of hearing.

Initially, police had arrested party leaders Kunwar Naveed, Qamar Mansoor, Shahid Pasha, Gulfaraz Khattak and around 50 party workers in two cases registered at the Artillery Maidan Police Station related to the Aug 22 speech of the MQM founder. Later, Kunwar Naveed was released on bail.

However, police had charge-sheeted the same set of suspects in three identical cases pertaining to the Aug 22 speech registered at the Quaidabad, Steel Town and SITE Superhighway police stations.

The court had granted interim pre-arrest bail to MQM-P chief Dr Farooq Sattar in around 30 cases pertaining to hate speech of the party’s founder.