April 2006 News

Two women killed in Astore protest

25 April 2006
The Daily Times
Ibrahim Shahid

Gilgit: Police firing allegedly killed two women and injured over a dozen protestors in Astore district on Tuesday. Twenty-year old Farida, a resident of Changurah village, and another woman were killed, and two other women injured when police fired at protestors, Eidgah Union Council Chairman Muhammad Ramzan and Astore Action Committee Vice President Abdul Wahab Lone told reporters. They said that fresh protests were triggered on Monday night when Astore’s Additional District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Umar suspended the Astore civil court judge’s stay order halting bidding for the construction of offices at Gorikote till April 25. The sessions’ judge suspended the stay order on April 24 without informing the respondents, who were plaintiffs in the original suit, they complained. The Public Works Department local executive engineer, with the collusion of the Astore deputy commissioner, asked contractors to participate in the bidding on the midnight of April 24 and distributed tender copies to them, said the local leaders. “Eidgah residents protested against the local administration’s illegal tactics and surrounded the offices of the PWD and the deputy commissioner,” they said. The deputy commissioner and superintendent of police ordered policemen to fire upon protestors, which resulted in the women being killed, they added. Ramzan and Lone accused the deputy commissioner of spreading sectarianism in the area. “We informed the regional chief secretary and other authorities about his (deputy commissioner) activities a year back, but they paid no attention and he has succeeded in dividing people on sectarian lines,” they said. They demanded the deputy commissioner be transferred for the sake of local peace and harmony. Sources told Daily Times that protestors had injured a police official and troops had been called in to control the situation. Astore, the sixth district of the Northern Areas was carved out of Diamer district and upgraded to a full- fledged district in November 2004 with its headquarters in Eidgah. Dr Muzaffar Ali Khan Relay, a local resident and a member of the Northern Areas’ Legislative Council, told Daily Times that Astore’s existing administration should be suspended immediately. “An independent judicial team chaired by a Northern Areas Chief Court judge should be formed to investigate the matter,” he said. The situation will deteriorate further unless the local administration is suspended immediately, he added. “A first information reports must also be lodged against the local administration for killing two innocent girls.”

 

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