Gilgit/Islamabad/Karachi/Lahore/Faisalabad: Peaceful protest demonstrations were held by students, youth and civil society members in Gilgit, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Lahore and Karachi, demanding fair retrial of ASI Muzaffar Ali Barcha, who has been court-martialed and sent behind the bars for one year. He is currently at a jail in Lahore. Muzaffar Barcha belongs to the Ishkoman Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan.
The protesters were holding placards inscribed with appeals to the Chief of Army Staff for justice. Slogans against VIP culture and nepotism were also inscribed on the banners.
They said that the COAS is the last hope for gaining justice.
Addressing the protesters speakers said that justice has been overlooked in the trial leading to conviction of ASI Muzaffar Ali. They demanded that the Chief of Army Staff look into the matter and order retrial and justice for ASI Muzaffar Barcha, who was serving in the Airport Security Force (ASF) Lahore, before going behind the bars after a summary trial. They said the people of Gilgt-Baltistan have been serving the country in different wings of the armed forces, and they are known as brave, upright and honest officers who have proudly and honorably laid down their lives in wars and battles against enemies of the state.
The speakers also condemned the rising menace of VIP culture in the country. They said that some segments of the society expect themselves above laws and norms and expect illegal protocol from officials on duty. They said that this scourge of VIP culture needs to be dealt with through to ensure equality of all citizens
The speakers said that punishing upright and honest officers and soldiers doesn’t augur well for the country’s future.
Multiple speakers addressed the gatherings in different cities. Prominent among the speakers were APML’s Chief Organizer Karim Khan (KK) in Gilgit, Didar Ali (Lahore), Tehseen Ali (Lahore), Maya Gilgiti (Islamabad), among many others. Muzaffar Barcha’s father and brother were attending a peaceful protest demonstration in front of National Press Club, Islamabad.
ASI MuzaffarBarcha has in his written statement said that the son of an ex-army officer misbehaved with the security staff and manhandled them when they tried to check his vehicle at the entrace of the Lahore Airport. He has said that he and his companions had to react in ‘self defense’ when they were attacked and insulted. He has maintained that his conviction in unjust, appealing to the Chief of Army Staff General RaheelSharif for a just retrial.
Simultaneous protest demonstration were organized by the youth and civil society members in multiple cities to express solidrity with Barcha and demand justice for him. The protest demonstrations were organized in different cities using social media, mainly Facebook.