Islamabad: Pakistan police on Sunday arrested Mufti Azizur Rehman, former vice-president of the main opposition party of Pakistan Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Lahore and a “Sheikh-al-Hadith” or “Scholar of Hadith” of Lahore’s seminary Jamia Manzoorul Islamia, on charges of sexual abuse.
A police team from Lahore conducted a dramatic raid and took Aziz into custody along with his two sons from a house he was hiding in Mianwali.
Rehman is accused of sexually assaulting one of his students at his seminary and a case was registered against him with North Cantonment Police Station of Lahore on the complaint of the student.
JUI-F dissociates itself
The case was registered against Rehman after a video clip showing him allegedly sexually assaulting one of his students went viral on social media.
The JUI-F dissociated itself with the suspect immediately after the scandal came to light and demands were made on social media for exemplary action against the cleric.
A test case for police
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghan in a tweet announced, “We have been able to arrest this criminal. We will take it as a test case, interrogate him, conduct scientific professional investigation, prosecute and get him convicted by the court.”
The complainant in the FIR claimed he had been studying at the Jamia since 2013 and during the examination of Darjah-e-Rabia (Grade 4), Mufti Aziz exploited him and banned him from appearing in three papers.
The complainant further said he pleaded with Mufti Aziz to reconsider the decision upon which the cleric agreed but on condition of sexual favour.
“It was purely for the sake of passing the exam and under duress that I agreed to become a victim. He also promised me that he would have my ban removed and get me to pass the Wifaqul Madaris exam,” the FIR further says.
“I lodged complaints with the administration of the seminary several times but no one was ready to believe me,” said the complainant in the FIR.
It was then that he started to secretly film the abuse and collected evidence which he presented to Wifaqul Madari Nazim-e-Aala Hanif Jalandhary.
“When Mufti Aziz came to know that, he threatened to kill me,” the young man told the police. “A few days ago, when someone uploaded the video on social media, I got scared and went into hiding,” the student further said in the charge-sheet.
Cleric claims he was drugged into act
In his rebuttal, Aziz has denied the accusation of sexual abuse and in a video statement claimed that he was drugged by his student.
“In fact, the boy gave me sedatives in my tea and after that I lost all my senses,” he said, adding the biggest proof of his ‘piety’ was that in the video footage it could be seen that his body was not even moving.
“If I were in my senses, how could I remain ignorant of the fact that he was making a video from his phone,” asked the cleric in his video statement.
He will be produced before a local court by the Punjab police for remand on Monday.