Meesha, eight others booked over vilification of Ali Zafar


LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) cyber crime wing on Monday booked singer Meesha Shafi and eight others for their alleged involvement in a smear campaign against singer-actor Ali Zafar.

The FIR against the suspects was filed for a non-cognisable offence on the order of the FIA special court.

Ms Shafi, actor-host Iffat Omar, Leena Ghani, Fariha Ayub, Maham Javaid, Ali Gul, Haseemuz Zaman Khan, Humna Raza and Syed Faizan Raza have been booked under section 20 (1) of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and R/W 109-PPC.

“Prior permission from the special court is required by the investigation officer to arrest the suspects as it is a non-cognisable offence,” an official told Dawn.

According to the FIR, the suspects were summoned multiple times by the FIA cyber crime wing to present their defence, failing which granted a cause of criminal proceedings against them.

In November 2018, Ali Zafar had filed a complaint with FIA cyber crime wing, alleging that many social media accounts were posting “threats and defamatory material” against him. He provided details of some Twitter and Facebook accounts to support his claim.

Zafar had alleged that many fake accounts had been created to launch a smear campaign against him weeks before Meesha Shafi’s allegation of sexual harassment against him in April, 2018. He stated that most of these fake accounts were allegedly connected to Ms Shafi.

“A twitter account @nehasaigol1, which posted 3,000 defamatory tweets against me and my family only in one year, [was] created 50 days before Meesha’s allegations of sexual harassment,” the singer-actor told FIA with documentary ‘evidence’.

Ms Shafi, also a singer, had appeared before the FIA with her team of lawyers in December 2019.

The FIR says Ms Shafi failed to produce any witness in favor of her allegation (of sexual harassment) against Ali Zafar.

According to the FIR, Leena Ghani was also summoned, but she did not turn up and sent her written statement which was not found satisfactory.

“She [Ms Ghani] was found involved in publicly posting defamatory content against the complainant on Twitter on April 19, 2018. Fariha Ayub and Maham Javaid were also summoned four times but they did not turn up to join the inquiry. Iffat Omar appeared, but did not record her statement with the request to give her time, but despite repeated requests failed to record her statement,” the FIR says.

The FIR says Ali Gull, using his Twitter ID @Aligulpir, posted derogatory remarks against Zafar. “He was summoned thrice, but he deliberately did not turn up and submitted his statement to the FIA Karachi.”

However, it says Gull’s statement was found unsatisfactory and did not fulfill the merit of inquiry.

Similarly, Humna Raza submitted her statement which was also found “unsatisfactory”, the FIR says and adds Haseemuz Zaman was summoned four times but did not join the investigation.

Syed Faizan Raza recorded his statement, saying he made allegations against the complainant through tweets “based on public opinion”. However, his statement was found unsatisfactory.

A defamation suit filed by Mr Zafar against Ms Shafi has also been pending with a session’s court.

Meanwhile, the hearing of a defamation suit filed by singer Ali Zafar against fellow singer Meesha Shafi was adjourned on Monday due to unavailability of the presiding judge of a sessions court.

On the previous hearing, Additional District and Sessions Judge Yasar Hayat had summoned Ms Shafi and her witnesses for their cross-examination.

On Monday, the legal team of Zafar was present in the court while an office-clerk informed the court’s reader about unavailability of Barrister Saqib Jilani, the defendant’s counsel, before Oct 10.

The court staff, however, fixed Oct 3 as the next date of hearing of the suit.

In his suit, Zafar said Ms Shafi through a tweet on April 19, 2018, levelled baseless and unfounded allegations of sexual harassment against him, which resulted in tarnishing his image in public while his family had been facing agony and pain.

He said she failed to delete the tweet and issue an apology based on the tweet within 14 days of a legal notice served on her. He asked the court to issue a decree against Ms Shafi directing her to pay Rs1 billion as damages to him.