ISLAMABAD, April 9: The warring groups in Gilgit-Balitstan came close to clash at D-Chowk here on Monday mainly because of police failure to foresee the outcome of allowing them to stand eyeball to eyeball.  

The activists and supporters of Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) and other parties representing the Shia community have established a protest camp at the Parade Avenue against the killing of innocent civilians in Chilas and other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan.

On the other hand, a protest rally was organised by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASJ) against the killing of their party workers in the Gilgit city.

The rally starting from Rehmania mosque in Blue Area was originally scheduled to terminate at China Chowk but on the insistence of the participants police allowed them to move up to the traffic signal at D-Chowk, just metres shorts of the MWM camp.

Soon after the rally reached the traffic signal, fiery speeches started from both sides with speakers blaming the other party for committing atrocities against people of their side. But the ground conditions started to go wrong when the speakers from the two sides started using loudspeakers to highlight their cause.

The ASJ rally speakers demanded the authorities to clear the MWM camp from D-Chowk and threatened to hold a massive rally at Jinnah Avenue and also block the Karakoram Highway. They also demanded that Gilgit-Baltistan be made part of Azad Kashmir.

On the other side of the road, the speakers continued to present various accounts of the killings and atrocities against the local population without naming any group or party while police contingent maintained a dividing wall between the two groups.

However, the situation turned ugly when youth from both the sides started chanting slogans against each other.

But before the supporters could come closer to each other, Allama Amin Shaheedi of MWM and Mufti Tanvir Alam of ASJ directed their sides to turn back.

Later, the MWM leadership rejected the request of the city administration and police to wind up their protest camp and not to go ahead with the already announced Friday prayers at the D-Chowk on April 13. Another meeting between the two is scheduled on Tuesday (today).

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