Gwadar protest leader booked on murder charge

Published January 3, 2023
Maulana Hidayatur Rehman speaks in a video message. — Screengrab via Twitter
Maulana Hidayatur Rehman speaks in a video message. — Screengrab via Twitter

QUETTA: Police in the port city of Gwadar have registered an FIR against Haq Do Tehreek leader Maulana Hidayatur Rehman on charges of murder, attempt to murder, provoking the people for violence and other charges, a senior police officer told Dawn on Monday.

However, the police officer said, the Maulana has not been arrested so far as he had disappeared from Gwadar.

The police constable was killed in the firing from mob during violent protests in Gwadar city. In a related development, the local administration on Monday released a local journalist who was arrested along with 15 other people, under section 3 of 16 MPO and sent to Turbat district jail.

Journalist Obaidullah, who worked for a Karachi-based Urdu daily newspaper, was eventually released after the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) and local journalists of Gwadar protested against his arrest. However, the 15 others have yet to be freed.

Provincial govt promises ‘speedy’ development after days of unrest

Meanwhile, chairing a high-level meeting in Quetta, Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili warned that no one would be allowed to disrupt the peace in the garb of violent protests and challenge the state’s writ.

The meeting, called to discuss the issues of the port city, expressed satisfaction over the efforts of provincial and district administrations and security forces to restore normalcy after days of protests.

The government, it was decided, will take all possible steps to develop Gwadar and provide facilities to the people of the port city.

“The people of Gwadar would be provided all facilities as it is their right and the government will take immediate steps in this regard,” Mr Uqaili told the meeting held in the backdrop of violent confrontations between the police and protesters a few days ago in Gwadar.

He added law enforcement agencies were taking measures for durable peace and order in the city.

Protesters held the city hostage for many days, which caused financial losses to traders and people, the chief secretary remarked.

He said that while peaceful protest was the democratic right of the people, nobody has the right to challenge the writ of the state.

The government did not interfere with peaceful protests, but when they turned violent, the administration fulfilled its responsibility to restore peace, he said.

Home and Tribal Affairs Additional Chief Secretary Zahid Saleem and Fisheries Secretary Kazim Khan Jatoi, Sports Secretary Ishaq Jamali, Information Secretary Muhammad Hamza Shafqaat attended the meeting, while Gwadar Development Authority Director General Mujeebur Rehman Qambrani, Makran division commissioner and Gwadar deputy commissioner Gwadar attended via a video link.

The fisheries secretary told the meeting that the department was taking action against illegal trawling and confiscated several vessels involved in illegal fishing in Balochistan’s waters.

The chief secretary directed officials to ensure the supply of clean water to people in the port city and other areas of Makran.

He also issued directives to address the chronic load-shedding problem and reduce its duration.

The chief secretary also ordered police to ensure foolproof security for tourists and foreigners visiting Gwadar.

Peaceful protests have been ongoing in Gwadar for months over demands such as ending illegal trawling and the provision of water, power and jobs.

The provincial government attempted to hold negotiations with the protesters, led by Haq Do Tehreek (HDT), but the situation turned violent in the last week of December after a policeman was shot dead by unidentified assailants during a demonstration.

The killing came a day after dozens of HDT protesters were rounded up by the police after talks failed. As the situation aggravated the government imposed Section 144 – prohibiting the gathering of five or more people – as the police arrested over 100 protesters and used force to disperse the demonstrators.

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2023

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