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GILGIT: The nomination papers of Awami Workers Party (AWP) leader Baba Jan to contest by-elections in the Hunza constituency from jail were rejected on Saturday.

The seat fell vacant after appointment of Mir Gazanfar Ali Khan, the elected member from the constituency, as GB Governor, last year.

By-election in the constituency is scheduled to be held on May 28.

Returning officer Shahenshah has accepted nomination papers of 27 candidates, including son of Governor Mir Gazanfar Ali, PPP leader and former speaker GBLA Wazir Baig, PTI leader Aziz Ahmed, and a female candidate, Hakeema Sultana.

The returning officer told Dawn that Baba Jan’s nomination papers for the by-election had been rejected on the grounds that he was a convicted persons serving jail term.

A local anti-terrorism court had sentenced Baba Jan to life imprisonment along with 16 others in connection with the Hunza riots case in Sept 2014.

The official said according to the law, the returning officer cannot accept nomination papers of a convicted prisoner.

Baba Jan had contested GBLA elections from jail on the Hunza constituency held on June 8, 2015, securing the second highest votes in the election.

Interestingly, the nomination papers of Prince Saleem, the son of Governor Mir Gazanfar Ali Khan, have been accepted despite the fact that he is a bank loan defaulter.

The returning officer said that Prince Saleem had obtained a stay order in the case from the chief court.

The official said the rejected candidates could file petitions with the election tribunal till May 2. The final list of candidates would be displayed on May 6, he added.

Meanwhile, the AWP has announced to file a case with the election tribunal against the rejection of the nomination papers of their leader.

AWP office-bearers Zahoor Elahi and Anayat Abadli said the decision was tantamount to pre-poll rigging.

“Fearing defeat in the by-elections the PML-N government ensured that Baba Jan didn’t contest the by-polls,” they said, adding AWP leaders and workers were being victimised due to their efforts to organise the people to demand their rights.

They said that Baba Jan was a rights activist, who was sentenced for demanding compensation for the Attabad affected people.

Meanwhile, PTI local leaders also condemned the decision of the election commission.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2016