Activists in Gilgit-Baltistan demand release of fourteen prisoners

By Our Staff Reporter

Gilgit: Hundreds of people, including women and children, protested in Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) area on Monday calling for the release of 14 activists who have been in jail for nearly a decade on charges of rioting and damaging public property in 2011. 

Activists, including Baba Jan, leader of the Awami Workers ‘ Party, received multiple life sentences from an anti-terrorism court. They were arrested for rioting in the area after a man and his son were allegedly killed by the police while seeking compensation after they lost their homes due to floods and landslides on the Hunza River.

Sher Ullah Baig and his son Sher Afzal, who were killed by the police, were residents of Shishkat in Gojal Valley. After protests over their deaths, the police arrested Baba Jan and several others from the town. Although most of them were let go, 14 activists were picked out, say supporters, and were given multiple life sentences.

All of the accused deny the charges and call for a political conspiracy to stifle dissension in the country. Baba Jan is a prominent leader in the region. If he is permitted to run in the mid-November parliamentary elections in the GB, as expected by the government of Pakistan, he is likely to win a seat. 

The Indian Government has strongly rejected Islamabad’s recent plans to hold legislative assemblies in the GB on 15 November and then turn the region into a province.  

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