July 10, 2020

By Umar Bacha


HUNZA

VoicePK: Baba Jan and his fellow activists have been in jail for nine years for allegedly setting fire to a police station and SHO’s house, but their families claim they are innocent and there is a political motive behind it.

“I thank you all for coming here to see me regarding my son, who is innocent,” says Bibi Zahra. “I am very upset because of the kind of cruelty that is being imposed upon my son. My son never thought badly of anyone, but what he got at his end was bad.” Baba Jan is her eldest son; she says he was always good to people inside and outside the family. At the age of 18 years he aided in coming up with a solution for the land problems in the area.

I urge the human rights organizations and others to play their role in this matter.

“Because my father and uncle have both passed away, it was my brother who looked after everyone,” says Naila his sister. ”This case has been on-going for 8 years now.

Now my Baba Jan belongs to Nasirabad town located in the Hunza district of Gilgit-Baltistan. He is a very active human rights activist and the former vice-president of the Awami Workers Party. He is in prison with 13 other fellows, including Irfan Karim, who has four children. His children ask their mother about their father and cry.

Baba Jan’s sister, Jahan Ara says that Baba Jan was his elder brother and the sole breadwinner of the family. His mother has been suffering from serious depression due to his political impressment and has been seriously ill for the last several days.

Everyone in Pakistan and indeed the whole world knows that Hunza is an ancient land. Yet the ATA act was imposed here resulting in many false cases against innocent people. Even an SHO got a false case filed against had. My brother is innocent. The former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar came0. Then the President of Pakistan himself promised my mother that her son’s innocence would be proven and he would be set free. But those promises remain unfulfilled. Many other influential people who visited have agreed that my brother is innocent. Yet I don’t understand that despite the whole world acknowledging my brother’s innocence, why is he still behind bars. I pose this question to the government: Is this how justice is carried out in the this Islamic Republic of Pakistan, by imprisoning innocent people? He was our only support. My old father, what is he going to do at this age? Our brother was taking care of our education. My sister couldn’t continue her higher studies because the brother who supported our goals has been locked up.

Baba Jan and his fellows have also been charged with terrorism and imprisoned for 71 years. However, their family members have applied to the elite GB Court for a review of the decision.

A judge passed away in 2016. We had filed a new petition in court at that time contesting the sentence. And in the five years since then, no other judge has been appointed in his place. Thus

Baba Jan’s petition is pending till date, just because there are no judges. And not just Baba Jan, but 14 others from Hunza and hundreds of cases from Gilgit Baltistan overall, are awaiting hearing because, in the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Baltistan, there is no judge. When Asma Jahangir was alive, the Chairperson of HRCP used to talk about our case, building pressure. Today too I appeal to the human rights organizations and the current government, to pass a fair judgment based on justice. And to reinstate all the judges in the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Baltistan, so the 150-200 cases of the region that haven’t been heard causing the continued imprisonment of many innocents, can get justice.

In 2015, Baba Jan contested for Hunza’s provincial assembly seat from jail and came on the second number, but his sentence was later reinstated by the Supreme Court

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