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New GB force to curb sectarian violence


GILGIT, April 23: The Gilgit-Baltistan cabinet on Monday approved setting up a new force to eliminate sectarian violence from the region.

The meeting was chaired by Chief Minister Syed Mehdi Shah. The meeting was convened to review law and order situation in the region.

Later, briefing reporters about decisions taken in the cabinet meeting the administration spokesperson and Education Minister Dr Ali Madad Sher said a joint force comprising 400 personnel taken from police, Punjab Rangers, GB Scouts and Pak Army will maintain law and order.

He said the new force would be commanded by an army major and will have two headquarters, one in the home department and the second at the main office of the GB Scouts.

Mr Sher said a checkpost and patrolling point would be set up after 10 kilometer distance on the Karakuram Highway to avoid any untoward incident on the road. He said a 20-member team comprising people from both Sunni and Shia sects would be set up to ensure that the two main mosques in the Gilgit city were not used for hate speeches.

The minister said three lists of anti-peace elements had been prepared and so far 20 out of the 30 most wanted people had been put behind the bars while raids were being conducted to arrest the remaining.

He said jirga in Chilas had helped police arrest eight out of ten wanted people, adding investigation into the Chilas incident was being carried out by highly professional police officers.

The minister said efforts were underway to arrest seven culprits involved in murder of a man and kidnapping of 34 people, including two officials, in Hunza-Nagar district.

He said mobile phone service was being restored in Astor and Ghizer districts while the service in Gilgit, Hunza-Nagar and Diamer would be restored once curfew was lifted.

He further said the duration of curfew break had been increased from 6am to 7pm and if situation remained clam it would be lifted altogether.

He said a joint meeting of federal, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and GB interior ministers would be called to further streamline the security affairs.

PRISONERS SHIFTED: The Gilgit-Baltistan government has shifted the prisoners kept in sub-jail Gilgit to the central jail of the city.

An administration official requesting not to be named said 57 prisoners, who were being kept in the sub-jail, had been taken to the central jail.

These prisoners belonging to a particular sect were brought to the sub-jail a couple of years back after a clash in the central jail over some religious issue. The building of the sub-jail was hired from the education department.

Meanwhile, the government has urged media not to publish and give coverage to banned outfits particularly the sectarian militant groups, according to a directive issued the other day.