Detained youth activist Baba Jan Hunzai was granted bail by an anti-terrorism court on Saturday.
“Jan’s bail plea has been accepted in all cases against him,” the defence counsel, Ehsan Ali, told The Express Tribune. He said that Jan was set to be released on Saturday; however, he alleged that the jail administration, in connivance with security agencies, has intentionally delayed his release to frustrate preparations made by his sympathisers for his return. Ali said it is possible that Jan will be released late on Saturday or in the small hours of Sunday, or as late as Monday morning.
Comrade Wajidullah, a spokesperson of the Progress Youth Front (PYF), said that Jan will be released provided that no other charges are cropped up against him at the last minute. “However, we are hopeful that will not happen this time around,” he added.
Jan, who is the chief organiser of PYF, was among the nearly 100 people arrested for allegedly ransacking a police station and torching government offices in August last year after a clash with the police, which claimed the lives of two internally displaced persons in Hunza last year. Jan was accused of fuelling the riots and then of treason – charges that he still denies.
Jan was granted bail by the same anti-terrorism court on June 27 in the Hunza riots case; however, he was remanded yet again on charges of inciting sectarian hatred and promoting anti-government sentiments among prisoners at the jail he was detained.
The youth activist’s second remand spurred protests by people at home and abroad. At his hometown, over 500 people took to the streets and laid siege to local government offices for around four hours demanding his release.
They chanted slogans against the Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Chief Minister Mehdi Shah and G-B Speaker Wazir Baig, accusing them of remanding the youth activist on false charges and torturing him while in custody.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2012.
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