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Set free: Court exonerates nine activists booked under anti-terrorism act

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: The supreme appellate court of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) exonerated nine activists booked under the anti-terrorism act (ATA) in G-B two years ago.

The charges were framed against the activists after they organised a protest rally in Gilgit against the ATA and demanded annulment of what they called a “Black Law”.

The decision was announced by chief judge, Justice Rana Shamim and Justice Javed Iqbal, said a lawyer on Saturday. The court also ordered quashing of FIRs registered against the activists including senior lawyer Ehsan Ali, human rights activist Israruddin Israr, politician and activist Aziz Ahmed among others.

“I think this is a decision we must appreciate,” said Israr, who represents the G-B chapter of human rights commission of Pakistan.

In the protest rally held in 2014, the activists had submitted an application in the United Nations office as part of efforts to highlight human rights violations. They had also demanded the release of political activist Baba Jan, who had earlier been sentenced to life by an anti-terrorism court.

After the rally the protestors were booked under ATA but they were able to seek bail-before-arrest from a court. In the subsequent days, the activists appealed in the G-B chief court against the FIR and sought its annulment. The court ruled in their favour. The government then appealed in Supreme Appellate Court, which is the apex court in G-B, against chief court’s order.

The apex court, after hearing arguments from the activist lawyers, acquitted them.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2016.


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