Disaster-hit people from Hunza-Gojal and activists of Left-wing political parties staged a protest here on Wednesday demanding release of political activists.
The protest was organised by the Progressive Youth Front (PYF) of Gilgit-Baltistan in collaboration with Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) and National Students Federation (NSF).
The protesters assembled outside the National Press Club, to mark the second anniversary of the Attabad landslide that hit the valley on January 4, 2010, carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the G-B government and demanding the immediate release of activists, including PYF leader Baba Jan, who were arrested by law-enforcement agencies.
The speakers criticised the government for its lethargic response to rehabilitation of displaced persons and delay in giving them compensation while keeping a tight lid on any forms of dissent.
They demanded of the local authorities to stop harassing people and implicating them in false cases.
WPP Information Secretary Aasim Sajjad spoke out against the G-B government arguing that it had “created another Bangladesh in the north”.
He said, “The government would not be able to suppress the voice of the people with torture and high-handedness.”
Before dispersing, the protesters warned that they would launch a nationwide campaign if their party leaders and workers are not released. “We give the government an ultimatum of ten days. If the prisoners are not released, we will hold violent protests,” said LPP representative Nisar Shah.
NSF representative Alia Amir Ali while addressing protesters said that the government was neglecting basic human rights.
She added that government is violating the fundamental rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan.
She urged the youth to stay united, stating that nothing short of “absolute justice” was acceptable.
In August last year, the local police opened fire on a group of people in Aliabad protesting for compensation for the Attabad Lake victims. Two protesters were killed in the incident.
Night raids were conducted following the incident resulting in several arrests on charges of vandalizing public property in Hunza.
Later, a candlelight vigil was held for victims of the Attabad tragedy.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.