Attabad Lake compensation: Man, son killed in clash between police, victims

Mob sets police station, DC house on fire; police open fire.

Shabbir Mir August 12, 2011


A father and son were killed while six sustained injuries during a clash in Hunza between the police and Attabad Lake victims who demanded compensation for losses incurred as a result of the natural calamity.

The clash erupted after some victims tried to get compensation from a local bank but were sent back on the pretext that there was “no money in the relevant account”.

“They came out of the bank enraged and started protesting against the government just before the arrival of the chief minister who was supposed to distribute cheques among the victims,” a police official said.

Officials said that the deputy superintendent police was hit by stones pelted by the protesters which prompted the police to open fire. “It seemed like a battleground,” said Syed Jan, a resident of Hunza.

The mob of protesters also set on fire a police station, the deputy commissioner’s house and office, and a police vehicle, a police official from Aliabad in Hunza told The Express Tribune.

Deputy Commissioner Gilgit Asad Zamin however said that one person was killed while six were injured. “Three of the injured are government officials while the other three are civilians,” he said.

The riots spread to Gulmit, another area of Hunza, where a mob torched another police station. Protesters also forced the suspension of boat services, besides closing down the Sost dry port. People from the Gojal area of Hunza also went to Aliabad to protest the killings of the father and son who reportedly belonged to Shishkat, one of the four villages submerged by the Attabad Lake. People in Gilgit also took to the streets chanting slogans against the government.

Those killed have been identified as Sherullah Baig and his son Sher Afzal

The news of riots forced G-B Chief Minister Mehdi Shah to cut short his visit and return to Gilgit. A massive landslide in 2010 killed 20 people and displaced hundreds after the Attabad Lake submerged four villages. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani announced that the victims would be compensated. However, victims say they have not received any funds despite a lapse of several months.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.


Amin Beg | 12 years ago | Reply

Never in the recent history of Hunza such police brutality has ever happened.

It was gruesome murder in broad daylight.

While I was in Hunza on that unfortunate day, and merely crossed the crime scene 45 minutes earlier, eye witnesses told me, this was a peaceful protest already agreed with the SSP that the IDPs will stage a sit-in on the road, and when the Chief Minister's car arrives, the representatives of the IDPs will present him with a letter and request for early release of the compensation amount to their individual accounts, as agreed with the government.

However, the DSP and the police van who were ordered to clear the way for the Chief Minister's caravan, used force to remove the 30-40 odd protesters from the road, that resulted in resistance and scuffles with the police, and the police opened straight fire, killing one person and injuring half a dozen.

The mob reaction by the IDPs and the people, youth and school children (one school student in uniform was hit by a police bullet in the leg) was but natural and spontaneous, as the police mishandled the whole situation and even fired tear-gas into the nearby hospital, where the injured were taken for treatment, and other patients, their attendants and doctors and nurses also suffered and everybody was enraged.

when i saw the teen-aged boys with scarfs running around pelting stones and crying, i tried to see if there was any leader they were following. i found none; they were all of the same age group early and mid teen!

I heard they were also frustrated, when on 5th September, the police failed to nap and stop, dozens of armed mafia who traveled through the police station and passed three checkposts and boarded a boat at Attabad, traveled for over two hours and reached Hussaini village, torched houses, shops, terrorized women and children, and injured dozens and used derogatory actions and remarks against local peoples belief systems.the local police were helpless and just bystanders.

Questions were common during the mob reaction, where was the police when armed mafia entered hunza and took over Hussaini?

one boy shouted, 'It is clear that the police only attacks and kills those who are innocent, unarmed and peaceful'.where were they when the bandits entered Hunza with arms?"

The key question is despite agreement with the SSP, why and who ordered the DSP to use force and open straight fire on unarmed, innocent protesters? Was it somebody from the CMs entourage or somebody higher up then the SSP?

Was the DSP competent to order firing without any legal basis or life threat to his or his personnel??

Others were smelling a wider game, that both this incident and the incident of Hussaini were agency sponsored and that the objective was to delay the work on the spillway and the KKH to stop the Chinese reaching the warm waters!!

When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers!!

Iftikhar-ur-Rehman | 12 years ago | Reply

The govt. promised last year to compensate the victims but even after almost a year the victims are still struggling to get the compensation.Zardari Govt. or for that matter any government never fulfills the promises they make.

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