Judicial probe ordered into Gilgit incident
11 January 2005
Syed Irfan Raza & Safdar Khan
Gilgit: The government on Tuesday ordered a judicial inquiry into the 'violence' that erupted in Gilgit to investigate the negligence of the local administration in controlling the situation , Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat said. The minister told reporters at a Press conference that the judicial inquiry would be conducted by an inquiry committee headed by a judge of the area. 'The officials of the local administration who were responsible for maintaining peace in the area, would be taken to task,' he said. He termed the ambush an incident of terrorism in which a top Shia religious leader, Agha Ziauddin, was critically injured and his two guards were killed. He said it was terrorism and not sectarianism that led to a wave of violence killing 15 people. 'If it were purely an incident of sectarianism, the other sect would have reacted but that was not the case,' the minister said. Mr Faisal said the government relaxed the curfew for two hours on Tuesday to allow residents to go outside and purchase food items. The government, he said, had announced Rs300,000 for each victim and the government would bear the expenses of those injured in the unfortunate incident. He said the situation in Gilgit, Chilas and Sakardu was under control and that was why the administration decided to relax the curfew. The minister said Aga Ziauddin had been shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), Rawalpindi, where he undergone a major surgery and now his condition was stable. The minister revealed that law-enforcement agencies had made vital breakthrough in investigation and those behind the incident would be taken to task soon. Mr Faisal said about 70 foreign nationals who had been stranded after the blockade of Karakoram Highway after the violence had been rescued. CURFEW RELAXATION The local authorities gave a two-hour relaxation in curfew from 2pm to 4pm as no untoward incident was reported from any part of the five districts of the region. Sources in the district administration told Dawn that the situation was fast returning to normalcy and no incident of violence had been reported from any part of the district or any other area. More troops of the Frontier Constabulary reached Gilgit on Tuesday to reinforce security in the troubled city. During the two-hour relaxation a large number of people thronged markets to buy essential food items as the city is fast running short in supply of food and fuel. The local administration assisted the stranded people and patients to leave the city but enhanced troop deployment and patrolling on the roads. Baricades have been erected by lying barbed wires at all exit and entry points within the municipality limits of the capital city of Northern Areas.