Tension Grips Astore
3 March 2004
Gilgit: Tension gripped Astore and Gilgit city on Tuesday when mourning processions were not allowed to pass through a non-traditional route in Astore valley. Witnesses said that over 15,000 mourners in Gilgit surrounded the Northern Areas Civil Secretariat for two-and-a-half hours against what they called 'a violation of religious freedom'. Sources said the mourners were stopped from passing through a new route, which triggered tension and the mourners refused to take the traditional route. An official of the Northern Areas administration said the mourners wanted to use a non-traditional route without having a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the administration. Therefore they were stopped to avoid any law and order situation in the valley. The official claimed that the law and order situation in Astore valley was under complete control. However, a Shia leader of the Northern Areas, Agha Ziauddin Rizvi, said they would continue their protests not only to condemn what he termed oppression of their sect, but also against the killing of people in Karbala, Baghdad, Quetta and Punjab. Mr Rizvi said they would launch a campaign against the so-far-delayed issue of controversial curriculum from April.