Gahkuch/Gilgit/Yasin, February 15: Thousands of people belonging to Yasin and Gupis Tehsil of Ghizar district have started a long march towards Gilgit. According to media reports and some independent sources the number of protesters is between ten to fifteen thousand people.
The protesters are demanding reversal of the decision, reportedly, taken by the federal government regarding a special subsidy in wheat price offered to the people by Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.
Recently the price of wheat grains had been raised from 800 to 1150. Media reports had it that the price hike is part of a strategy to gradually withdraw the subsidy. The chief minister and some members of the cabinet have denied that the subsidy is being withdrawn. They argue that the price hike was important in view of the currency devaluation over the past years. Meanwhile, the GB Finance Minister, Muhammad Ali Akhtar, has said that the withdrawal of wheat subsidy is a conspiracy against PPP. He has advised the government to take the decision back.
The protesters are peaceful. They are raising slogans in favor of their demands. No damage has been caused to any property, public of private, according to reporters who are accompanying the mammoth caravan of people.
One of the prominent leaders of the march is Raja Jahanzeb, former candidate for the GBLA seat from Yasin Valley. Other leaders are Raja Abdul Sabur, Muhammad
Madad Shah, Shah Qayyum and Haider Wali.
The efforts of District administration to stop the protesters have failed. The protesters have, reportedly, vowed to reach Gilgit city peacefully and register their protest in front of the Gilgit – Baltistan Legislative Assembly, close to the monument of GB’s war of freedom.
The protesters are walking on foot. They had reached Gahkuch this evening where more people are likely to join them for tomorrow’s journey towards Gilgit city, the capital of Gilgit – Baltistan.
The protesters refused to finish the march when officials of the district administration tried to negotiate with them. The protesters have conditioned closure of the march to reversal of the decision on wheat subsidy.
This is for the first time in recent decades when thousands of people have started a mass movement for a civic facility.
The protesters have invited residents of other districts of GB to also take part in the historical protest movement.
Distance from Gahkuch to Gilgit is around 50 kilometer. At this pace, if all goes well, the protesters are likely to reach Gilgit by the night of 16th or the morning of 17th February.
The protesters have already covered almost a similar distance while moving from their homes in Yasin and Gupis.
The protesters have vowed to stay in front of the Chief Minister House till their demands are met and the wheat subsidy is restored completely.