SADDA, June 30: More than 10,000 displaced families from Parachamkani area in Kurram Agency have started returning to their homes with the help of Fata Disaster Management Authority.
The ancestral area of the displaced tribal people was declared conflict zone owing to insurgency by militants last month.
Out of the total 10,500 displaced families, 6,700 had been shifted to their homes, Mohammad Naeem Khan, the assistant political agent of central subdivision of Kurram Agency, told journalists at New Durrani Camp for IDPs at Sadda on Saturday.
He said that each returning family was provided with Rs3,000 for transportation, non-food items and food ration for three months. He said that the return programme was started on June 20 and the process would be completed before the advent of Ramazan.
The official said that the area, 23 kilometres east of Parachinar, the administrative headquarters of Kurram Agency, had been cleared of militants. Parachamkani had been de-notified as conflict zone, he added.
The administration had notified 29 villages in Parachamkani as conflict zone on May 9 and army and Frontier Corps launched a joint operation in the mountainous area adjacent to Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.
Col Waseem Bhatti told journalists that Parachamkani, 600 square kilometres area, was cleared in a very short time. He said that militants attacked local people between the night of May 6 and 7 and set on fire several houses. He said that forces were moved into the area and the entire conflict zone was sealed on May 11.
“The operation code named Koh-i-Sufaid (White Mountain) was completed within 34 days,” said Col Waseem, the commander of the operation. He added that 70 militants were killed and around 100 suffered injuries in the operation. He said that 21 soldiers also lost their lives in the conflict while 86 got injuries.
Col Waseem said that security forces had intercepted messages of militants that proved that they had suffered casualties, however, he did not give details about the whereabouts of the remaining militants.
They could threaten peace process in Kurram Agency if they were not contained to Parachamkani, he said.
To a question, he said that foreign militants including Uzbeks were present in the area. The miscreants had shifted there from Maidan area of the adjacent Khyber Agency, he added.
“They (militants) might have shifted to Parachamkani because security forces put pressure in Maidan, the major sanctuary of militants in Khyber,” said Col Waseem. He said that activities of militants panicked local people and they started leaving their homes.
Ironically, around 30,000 families displaced from other areas of the central subdivision of Kurram in July 2011 have not been returned to their homes. Security officials said that return of those IDPs had been delayed because of capacity of the departments concerned. However, officials of the political administration said that security forces had yet to give them clearance in that regard.
The elders of Parachamkani while talking to journalists termed the return package insufficient and alleged that administration did not facilitate them properly.
Gul Faraz, an elder of the area, complained that transportation cost from Sadda to Parachamkani was Rs17,000, but the returning families were paid only Rs3,000. He said that many families had rejected the package.