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 students and supporters of Majlis Wahdat Musleemin (MWM) have established a protest camp at the Parade Avenue against the killing of innocent civilians in Chilas and other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan. The protest camp has been established by the MWM and other parties representing the Shia population.
On the other hand, a protest rally was organised by Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASJ) against the attack and killing of their party workers in Gilgit. However, the rally starting from Rehmania mosque, Blue Area, was originally scheduled to terminate at China Chowk but upon insistence by the participants police allowed the rally to move up to traffic signal at D-Chowk, just metres shorts of the MWM camp.
Soon after the rally reached the traffic signal, fiery speeches commenced 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 of the rally and the protest camp 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. They speakers also threatened to 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 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 after the speeches when youth of both sides started raising slogans against each other. But before the supporters could come close enough 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).