Interior minister Rehman Malik, who flew to Gilgit early Saturday, announced that five of the accused involved in the Kohistan carnage have been arrested.
It was his second visit to Gilgit this month which came after the Shia community resumed protests and demonstrations late Friday against the “non-serious attitude” of the government in accepting their demands including the arrest of culprits, compensation to their heirs of Kohistan carnage and creating of special highway forces for Karakoram Highway.
Earlier, the clerics had given a deadline to the government asking them to fulfill the demands by March 8 or else they would launch protests across Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B).
“The perpetrators have been traced through a cell phone call and five of them have been arrested,” Malik told reporters soon after holding separate meetings with delegations representing Sunni and Shia communities at the chief minister secretariat.
He nevertheless refused to divulge further details on it, saying that the issue was sensitive.
Flanked by Chief Minister Mehdi Shah, Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah and the representatives of Shia community, Malik said that the involvement of foreign hands could not be ruled out in the bus incident that left 16 residents of G-B dead in Kohistan last month.
“If the involvement of foreign hands is established, our ties with the neighbouring countries could be affected,” he said.
Malik said that a compensation worth Rs1 million for the families of Kohistan tragedy have been handed over to the local government, while the G-B government would also add the same amount, making it to Rs2 million for each aggrieved family.
Accepting another demand, he also announced government jobs for one of the relatives of the victim families.
About the security measures, he said that more police check posts would be set up but said that the local government would decide the location for that.
About the issue of separate syllabus, he said that the recommendations prepared during 2008-2009 would be implemented and that the chief secretary had been issued orders for that.
He said that the number of flights for Gilgit have been increased as per the demands of the local people.
Malik announced a delegation of special police powers to Rangers, bringing their powers at par with police and G-B scouts, for better handling of the situation but said that no major operation was in the offing in G-B.
Peace Jirga along with the security forces will be restored for peace in Gilgit, he said, adding that Superintendent Police of Diamer and Kohistan valley have been posted out on the demand of the local people.
Malik assured the G-B people that non-locals would not be able to purchase land in Gilgit-Baltistan without first obtaining a no-objection certificate [NoC] from the interior ministry.
Agha Rahat Hussain, the top Shia cleric in G-B, said that they expected Malik to revisit Gilgit after 15 days to share the progress about arrest of killers and other commitments made with them.
Malik on release of missing persons
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has also ordered the interior secretary to contact the Afghan government, Guantanamo Bay authorities and Interpol to locate missing persons, reported Express News.
The orders were given out during Malik’s meeting with Defence of Human Rights head Amina Masood Janjua.
During the meeting, Malik gave his assurance for the release of 293 missing persons, Interpol will be contacted while Guantanamo Bay will also be checked with the help of Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman.
A list of the missing persons will also be sent to the Afghan interior ministry so that the jails in Afghanistan can be checked, said Malik.
Published in Expresstribune
Published in Dawn New
Talking to newsmen here after attending a meeting on law and order situation, Malik claimed that those involved in the incident have been identified, adding that the culprits will be brought to justice at all costs.
“The list of identified persons will be handed over to local Jirgas who will hand over the culprits to the security forces,” he said.
Malik said nobody will be allowed to play with the law and order situation of Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said the number of check posts will be increased in the area to maintain peace.
The minister rejected attribution of the Kohistan incident to sectarianism.
He also announced compensation of two million rupees each for the bereaved families of those killed in firing incident.