December 10th, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed
Hundreds of people participated in a rally in Gwadar to denounce the registration of a case against the leaders of an ongoing protest and any possible police crackdown against a sit-in.
The police booked Haq Do Gwadar Tehreek’s leader Maulana Hidayat and Awami Workers Party (AWP) chief Yousaf Masti Khan in a FIR lodged under sedition charges, waging a war against Pakistan and alleged violation of other laws.
The police arrested the AWP chief Yousaf Masti Khan for allegedly making an anti-state speech during the sit-in on Thursday.
On Friday, a local court in Gwadar has granted bail to Mr. Khan against a surety bond of Rs 100,000.
The FIR was lodged on the complaint of a police sub-inspector, however, according to law, such FIRs can only be lodged by federal or provincial governments through an authorised officer.
Section 196 of the Code of Criminal procedure (CrPC) reads, “No Court shall take cognizance of any offense punishable under Chapter VI or IXA of the Pakistan Penal Code (except Section 127), or punishable under Section 108-A, or Section 153-A, or Section 294-A, or Section 295-A or Section 505 of the same Code, unless, upon a complaint made by order of, or under authority from, the Central Government, or the Provincial Government concerned, or some officer empowered in this behalf by either of the two Governments.”
In an earlier interview, one of the main leaders of the protest had lamented that as the movement was getting more snd more support, some elements had launched a campaign against him, branding him as an agent of anti-CPEC forces.
“This has become the (normal) practice… instead of listening to people’s grievances, these elements start labelling them as agents. We asked for clean drinking water and in reply they say ‘you are an Indian agent!’”
Last night, a heavy contingent of security forces encircled the sit-in after which hundreds of women joined the protests to create a human shield to prevent any arrests.
Earlier, on November29, scores of women rallied in solidarity with the male citizens of Gwadar, stating that the government’s policies have destroyed their livelihoods of their spouses, and that they could not stand by and watch anymore.
The protests have been continuing for the last 27 days and the people are demanding an end to what they call illegal trawling off the Gwadar coast as it is directly affecting their livelihood.
The protesters are also demanding of the govt to provide clean drinking water and for the lifting of restrictions on trade with neighbouring Iran.
How the movement started
According to Rehman, Gwadar had been neglected for long and the fury of the masses had long been simmering. He said that people wanted to speak for their rights but were fearful of the consequences.
“A few months back, we had a meeting with security officials where I categorically told them that we [the people of Gwadar] will not tolerate any humiliation. We are not people without honour,” Rehman said. “When people saw that I was speaking for their rights without fear, they stood with me because I had broken this reign of fear.”