January 13th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
A Gilgit Balitistan legislator on Thursday said he had asked the authorities to withdraw a terrorism case men protesting power outages in Ghizer district as residents there threaten a road blockade if failed to do so.
On January 9, police filed a first information report against seven elders of Singul village in Ghizer for allegedly disrupting water flow to a power house and threatening staff there, leading to power shutdown in the entire area. The FIR charged seven village elders with offences under Section 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. However, no arrests were immediately made.
On the other hand, residents have threatened to block the main Ghizer Road at Singul if the case against the village elders was not withdrawn by Thursday evening.
Speaking to Voicepk.net on the phone from Islamabad, Nazir Ahmed, Deputy Speaker of Gilgit-Balitistan Assembly, said he had expressed concern over the terroism charges against the protesters. ”I have spoken to the home secretary to withdraw the case,” said Nazir Ahmed, who is a legislator from Ghizer.
The legislator said has also assured residents of Singul that the case would be withdrawn and there would be no arrests. “A legal process needs to be followed to withdraw the FIR and this takes time,” he said while responding to the Thursday deadline set by the residents.
The deputy speaker said he was aware of the problems faced by residents from loadshedding in Ghizer. “The water flow to power houses is reduced in winter which consequently reduces power generation,” he explained. Nazir Ahmed said he had asked the commissioner to hold a meeting with the protesters and all their issues were resolved.
He said it was not possible to meet the demands of the residents for completely ending loadshedding in their villages due to low power generation. “If we end loadshedding in Singul, residents of other villages will start holding protests,” he said.
Residents of Singul and three adjoining villages held a protest to demand an end to loadshedding and right of irrigation water from the natural drain feeding the power house. “The residents also demanded the government pay compensation to residents, pending for several years over land acquired in a project,” Inayat Baig, one of the protesters, told Voicepk.net.
Following the protest and disruption of water flow to the power house, the Gilgit commissioner chaired a meeting with electricity supply officials and protesters at Gaskuch rest house on January 10. The members of the local peace committee also attended the meeting. An agreement drawn after the meeting stated that all efforts would be made to reduce loadshedding to the affected villages.
According to the agreement, residents would be given jobs in the power house while their right of water from the drain was also accepted. Inayat Baig said the agreement stated that no case would be filed against residents that had caused disruption in the water flow to the power house. He said the residents felt that the government had violated the pact by filing the case as well as it had not honoured the reduction in loadshedding as promised.
In a press release in the evening a people’s committee of the four villages asked residents to gather for a meeting on January 15. The committee said the issue of the FIR against the village elders would be taken up in the meeting.