PoK activists demand release of leaders

10th September 1997

LONDON: Activists from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) here have threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike from next week demanding the release of six prominent leaders of Gilgit and Baltistan, allegedly held by the Pakistani Army clandestinely and without any charges.

"The six leaders, some of whose condition is serious after being tortured, are likely to be bumped off in custody unless international organisations like Amnesty International and others do not intervene," the PoK leaders told news persons here yesterday. The leaders were detained by Pakistani security agencies after they led a "massive black day procession" in Gilgit on Pakistan's Independence day.

The leaders were protesting as "Gilgit, Baltistan and Hunza become colonies of Pakistan on that day", Afzal Tahir, chairman of the Kashmir International Front said.

Asking the people and organisations in Jammu and Kashmir and also international human rights bodies to intervene and launch a struggle for their release, the PoK leaders pointed out that recently the Pakistan Government had contested the Supreme Court's jurisdiction over the northern areas.

"If the Pakistan Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the detenus, then the government should declare that the northern areas of Jammu and Kashmir come under the jurisdiction of the Indian Supreme Court," Tahir said.

Meanwhile, the "world organisation against torture" has sent a telegram to PM Nawaz Sharif to intervene to get the leaders released and ensure that they were safe.

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