PESHAWAR, Aug 11: Most of Eidgahs in the provincial capital’s suburbs remained closed on Sunday for militant attack fears forcing the people to offer Eid prayers in hujras (guesthouses) under armed guard.
In the city areas, law-enforcement personnel, especially policemen, stood guard outside and atop mosques and imambargahs for Eid prayers. The people were allowed to enter places of worship after thorough body search.
Big Eid congregations were seen at Eidgah, Charsadda Road and Bagh-i-Naran, Hayatabad, where law-enforcement personnel were deployed in large numbers.
In the city’s suburban areas, especially Adezai, Badhber and Bazidkhel, Eid prayers were offered in hujras as Eidgahs were closed for fear of militant attacks.
The peace volunteers from these areas complained that police had withdrawn their personnel from places of worship and therefore, they had to engage private guards for the protection of Eid congregations.
“People were compelled to offer Eid prayers in hujra as volunteers didn’t want to take risk,” Fazal Malik, head of Adezai Qaumi Lashkar, told Dawn.
He said the government had deployed a platoon of Frontier Constabu-lary (FC) near his house in Adezai but it was withdrawn during Ramazan though police personnel were present in the area in a very few number.
Mr Malik said Eid prayers were offered at his hujra as there were reports about a possible militant attack on the faithful.
“We didn’t want to endanger lives of the entire population and therefore, ported for hujra. Eidgah in the area has already been closed,” he said.The lashkar head said in the past, the people used to offer Eid prayers at the local Eidgah but the current delicate law and order situation led to its closure.
He said around 100 local residents had been killed by militant attacks, many of them in mosques and funeral processions.
Mr Malik said he had repeatedly requested police bosses for re-deployment of FC and police in the area, but to no avail.
He said the location of Adezai village was so strategic that militants from tribal and semi-tribal regions had to use it for entering Peshawar.
Bazidkhel Qaumi Lashkar chief Asif Khan also complained that the government had withdrawn policemen from him and therefore, his volunteers had to arrange own security for Eid prayers.
“No doubt, it was a very serious situation that we’d to offer Eid prayers without official security,” he said.
Mr Khan said militants had reached very close to his area but local police avoided taking action against them despite being informed about their presence.
“I was falsely implicated in a murder case and that policemen were also withdrawn from my house. The representatives of different peace bodies will hold a meeting shortly to decide about future line of action.
However, we will continue to support police in the war on terrorism as militants are enemies of all of us,” he said.