CHILAS, April 16: A grand jirga of Diamer district agreed on Monday to hand over to authorities the people who are wanted to the police for their alleged involvement in the killing on April 3 of 10 passengers near Bonar Das.

Officials said that the use of force was unlikely to help resolve the problem, adding that the arrest of suspects had become possible with the jirga’s cooperation.

“The jirga told the police during a meeting in Chilas that all the people wanted by police in connection with violence would be handed over to authorities,” an official said.

He said negotiations between the police and the jirga had been going on for five days.

Initially, Maulana Muzamil Shah, one of the top clerics of Diamer, Sher Ghazi and two other people nominated in the case reached the Chilas rest house from where they were taken to a secret place for investigation.

“They are not accused but are nominated in the FIR and an investigation will determine whether they are responsible for the crime,” a magistrate said, adding that those found innocent would be released.

He said arrangements were being made to ensure foolproof security on the Karakoram Highway to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

However, he added, the Chilas incident was a reaction to what had happened in Gilgit and investigation was under way to find out who had spread speculations that fuelled the violence.

DIG Police Ali Sher arrived in Chilas along with law-enforcement personnel to arrest those allegedly involved in the killing of the passengers of a bus convoy heading for Gilgit and Skardu after a grenade attack triggered violence in the regional capital.

The jirga comprised notables from all valleys and villages of the district, including religious and political leaders. They said no other part of the region would be affected if peace prevailed in Gilgit and the government should ensure its writ in the city if it wanted normality in other areas.

“We have voluntarily given the suspects in police custody for the sake of durable peace in the region and it’s a good omen for the area,” jirga chief Qazi Inayatullah told reporters.

He asked why people of the other areas were not helping police arrest the anti-peace elements as had been done in Chilas.

“We will not allow unrest in our area and we assure the army of complete cooperation from our community,” he said.

He said that after the incident more than 300 people protected by local ulema and notables had safely reached their homes but this fact had not been highlighted.

He criticised the media for projecting a ‘wrong’ picture and urged them to realise the sensitivity of the issue.

Meanwhile, authorities put the Ahl-i-Sunnat wal Jamaat chief Qazi Nisar Ahmed under house arrest for two months.

On Monday, curfew was relaxed for nine hours in Gilgit and schools, colleges and offices reopened, although the attendance remained thin.

“How can I send my children to school in such a volatile and unpredictable environment? I will not send them till I am satisfied that the situation is completely under control,” a parent said.

More trucks carrying food arrived in Gilgit but Skardu, Ghizer, Astore and Ghanche continued to face a severe shortage of edibles as drivers were still reluctant to go there.

The home department announced cash rewards for those identifying places where illegal weapons are hidden. The information can be given on telephone numbers 05811-920867 and 05811-963584.

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