By Israruddin Israr
A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against 19 nationalist political workers of Gilgit Baltistan in Cantt Police station Gilgit under the section 124-A, 123-A, 34 PPC. They were charged under the sections related to sedition because they delivered speeches in a recently held seminar, titled “Gilgit Baltistan in the light of Kashmir Dispute”, conducted by All Parties National Alliance in collaboration with Karakorum National Movement (KNM) at Grand Continental Hotel Gilgit on 22nd February 2015.
The 19 nationalist political and social workers who have been nominated in FIR are as follows:
1. Taruf Abbas Karakorum National Movement (KNM) , 2. Mumtaz Nagri KNM, 3. Faizan Mir President Gilgit-Baltistan Youth Movement, 4, Kamran Wahid, KNM, 5. Malik Waseem, Chairman Kashmir Students Federation, 6. Tahir Ali Tahir, Balawaristan National Movement (BNF), 7. Hidyat Ullah Akhtar, a social activist, 8. Azhar Ahmed Kashmiri, Nationalist, 09. Adovcate Muhammad Shafi KNM, 10, Burhan Ullah BNF, 11. Sultan Madad Balor Research Forum, 12. Engineer Shujat Ali BNF, 13. Sayed Tahir Ali Shah, nationalist leader, 14. Faqeer Shah President Anjuman e Imamia, 15. Sher Nadir KSO, 16. Mir Afzal Kashmir National Party, 17. Engineer Aman Ullah, nationalist leader, 18. Dr. Ghulam Abass, a nationalist leader, and 19. Advocate Muhammad Javed.
It is alarming to see that the political victimization of democratic forces in Gilgit-Baltistan has increased during the recent years. Registering FIRs under the charges of sedition against political and human rights activists who raise voice for their rights is a common practice in Gilgit Baltistan. Previously, such an FIR had been registered against 09 political and human rights activists of GB on 18th October 2014 in Jutial Police station Gilgit under the sections related to sedition, i.e. 124 /A PPC. That FIR was launched after they had participated in a protest and delivered speeches against political victimization of political workers in GB.
An Anti-terrorism court in Gilgit announced its verdict of three times life imprisonment against Baba Jan, a progressive leader of GB, and other 11 other political workers in last year. They are still in District Jail Gilgit and facing life imprisonment under the charges of Anti-Terrorism Act, 6/7. They were booked under the charges of ATA because they allegedly blocked the road for protocol convoy of CM GB and staged a protest accompanied with the affactees of Atta Abad disaster. The protest was against Sayed Mehdi Shah then Chief Minister GB while he was on official visit of Hunza in August 2011. As a result of attack on protesters by police two affacttees of Atta Abad disaster were killed and dozens were injured. After that incident protesters had set on fire the local police station and SHO house in Ali Abad Hunza.
An FIR was also registered against Dr. Zaman, a leader of Awami Action Committee, in Diamer in last month because he delivered a speech in a public meeting in Chilas and criticized the local administration for its discriminatory practices.
Rights to speech, assembly and protests are totally denied in Gilgit-Baltistan by the administration. This has created frustration among the masses. Some days ago when Awami Action Committee announced a protest demonstration and strike against load shedding of electricity in Gilgit, the caretaker Government threatened them with action under the National Action Plan, whereas the national action plan was approved in all parties conference and later the parliament only for the people who are involved in the activities of terrorism.
Same foolishness is always shown by police in GB about the registration of an FIR under the sections of 124/A. The section refers to the acts of sedition. There is no provision in law to register direct FIR under the section 124/A. According to law the administration can only file a complaint with the approval of Chief Executive of province and federation in the court of magistrate against the person who is being charged under the section of sedition (124/A). But owing to lack of law knowing personals in police stations of GB, the illiterate police officials register such FIRs directly without fulfillment of procedure.
Earlier in a case of sedition on 22nd Oct 2014 the session court had granted bail to the 09 accused human rights and political workers on the bases of neglecting the procedure prescribed by law to book a person under the sections of sedition. In spite of it the police officials in GB are not ready to give up their tradition of violating the law.
The victimization of political, social and human rights activists in GB is alarming. If the political parties, civil society and the masses don’t raise their voice against this human rights violation, then in future there will be no room for any one in GB to raise voice for the rights of marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed segments of society as well as for the constitutional and political rights of 1.5 million deprived people of GB.
The writer is a Gilgit based senior Journalist and human rights defender. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org