December 1st, 2020
By Umar Bacha
All of the 13 comrades and activists who had been incarcerated along with rights activist and Awami Workers’ Party local leader Baba Jan, had been released much before him. Baba Jan spent around nine years in prison and was the only one released last.
The activists had been charged in different cases of torching government property in 2011 after a clash between the public and the police, in the aftermath of two people being killed by police bullets.
While the cases that were registered against them are still valid, for all the charges to be dropped a court of law will have to quash the FIRs. But after a deal was struck between the administration and protestors, all except Baba Jan were released through an executive order by the Home and Prison Ministry of Gilgit-Baltistan
And when finally an exhausted and older Baba Jan was finally released he was met with the warmest welcome by his community. His residence in Nasarabad is thronged with people as they all come to meet him and his family and to give their congratulations on his release.
“I salute all those people who struggled for my release and of my comrades’ release,” he said, speaking to Voicepk.net. “I was not anticipating such a warm and loving welcome from the people, and that too in such harsh December weather. I did not expect that they would be standing for me and waiting on the road for me.” He said he was overwhelmed by the love and affection he was given.
Those who had come out to receive him stood in the cold on the road from Gilgit to Hunza. As he came out of prison, several came forward to congratulate him.
About his coming out of prison, Baba Jan said that he would ensure that it would end up being a milestone and a sign of prosperity for Gilgit-Baltistan and that he would continue his peaceful activities and struggle for the rights of the people of GB.
“My friends and I were illegally detained in fake cases,” he says. “We spent a huge chunk of our lives in prison. The case I was charged under could not have been real because I was in a jirga when the incident took place. We have always held peaceful protests and we never even lit a match stick. We believe in a non-violent struggle,” he said. “We are against even torching tyres in protest and are against those who take the law in their hands,” He further said.
He said that the government and state authorities should not put innocent people behind bars as it only ends up in ruining lives.
He said there were all types of political wings, parties and their leaders should get together to talk with those in Islamabad and in view of the status of Gilgit Baltistan, the government should take measures in the best interest of the people.
He added the federal government should now ensure provision of due rights of the Gilgit Baltistan.
Last month, a sit-in was held by the people in Central Hunza demanding the release of all of the political prisoners imprisoned in 2011 including Baba Jan. The government had promised the prisoners’ release soon and the next day they were released from Ghizar Jail.
His family too is overjoyed.“We knew nothing but stress, while my brother was in jail, but today our happiness knows no bounds,” says Baba Jan’s sister. “It is indeed a happy moment for us to see so many human rights activists and intellectuals come over to our house to meet my brother.”