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GILGIT: Special persons organised a protest sit-in here on Wednesday against lack of employment opportunities in the government departments.

The protest call was given by Gilgit-Baltistan Alliance of Special Persons.

About two dozen special persons from across the region gathered outside GB Assembly building in Jutial and blocked the main road for about seven hours, holding placards inscribed with their demands.

The protesters lamented that the GB government had failed to protect their rights.

Irshad Kazmi, the alliance’s information secretary, told Dawn that according to presidential order 1981 two per cent quota in government jobs was to be given to special persons. However, he said the order remained to be implemented in government departments in GB. He alleged that mostly healthy people were being appointed on special persons’ quota while deserving people were ignored.

Speaking to the protesters, office-bearers of the alliance, Mustafa Kamal, Amjad Nadeem and Hasan Balti said the special persons having higher education and ability to contribute in government sector were jobless. They pointed out that Rs5 billion announced under GB chief minister’s package for special persons was not being utilised on their welfare. They alleged that NAB officials had occupied special persons’ hostel in Gilgit.

They also demanded health cards for special persons and establishment of social welfare departments in all the districts of GB.

They demanded that two per cent quota in government jobs for special persons should be increased up to five per cent.

GB opposition leader Mohammad Shafi Khan, members from opposition benches, Javed Hussain, Sikandar Ali Khan and Nawaz Khan Naji also joined the protest sit-in.

Later, law minister Aurangzeb Khan held meetings with leaders of protesters and requested them to end the protest, assuring them to make legislation in the house on the matter.

However, the protesters refused to end the protest till written assurances.

Later in the evening, the opposition members convinced the protesters to postpone the protest till Thursday morning. The protesters said they would only postpone the protest for the night and would continue the agitation till acceptance of their demands.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019