GILGIT: Residents of the Nasirabad area of Hunza staged yet another protest on Sunday, demanding immediate release of a youth leader – Baba Jan - detained one year ago for the Hunza riots.
“At least 400 men have joined the camp and more are coming,” Wajid, a resident of Nasirabad –Hunza told The Express Tribune by phone.
He said that a peaceful protest rally would also be held on the Karakoram highway later in the day to highlight the issue of illegal detention of the leader.
Jan, who is the chief organiser of Progressive Youth Front, was among the 100 people arrested for allegedly ransacking a police station last August after a son and father were killed in a clash with the police.
Jan and his party were accused of fuelling the riots, a charge that they denied.
Residents of Nasirabad last week staged a protest camp at the same place, threatening to lay siege to the offices of the deputy and assistance commissioners in Hunza if the youth leader wasn’t released from jail within three days.
“The decision of laying siege to the offices has been put off till the anniversary of Jan’s arrest,” said Wajid, a supporter of Baba Jan.
The protest camp was addressed by leaders, condemning authorities for implicating the detained leader in false cases, said Mumtaz Ali, another activist.
Jan’s counsel Ehsan Ali said that Jan’s bail plea had been accepted and he was expected to be released earlier this month, but was remanded in yet another case by the anti-terrorism court on charges of inciting sectarian hatred and promoting anti-government sentiments among prisoners.
He had earlier termed the charge “another tool to incarcerate [the detained youth leader]”.
When contacted, Assistant Commissioner Gilgit, Usman Ahmad said that Baba Jan was facing sedition charges under anti-terrorist act [ATA], which were unbailable. “It is however upto the court to accept or deny him bail,” he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the youth organisation as the "Progressive Youth Movement" instead of the "Progressive Youth Front". A correction has been made.