PESHAWAR: The government has asked people in Mirali and Shawal sub-divisions of the conflict-hit North Waziristan Agency to leave their homes amid reports of expansion of ground offensive to other areas.

The people of Razmak, Spinwam, Shewa, Shawal, Eidek and other areas of the agency were exempted from evacuation before the launch of Zarb-i-Azb on June 15.

The authorities issued evacuation notices to the people of Shawal a few days ago. They have been asked to move to Bannu.

According to officials, the political administration asked about 4,000 families of Eidek, some seven kilometres west of Mirali, to vacate their homes after Saturday. The notices triggered resentment among the residents of the area and they refused to follow the orders.

Know more: Zarb-i-Azb: Widen the operation

The military operation has already forced over 52,000 families in Miramshah and Mirali to move to Bannu. Initially, over 92,000 families were registered as IDPs but their number has been reduced after verification by the National Database and Registration Authority.

The army has claimed that Mirali, Miramshah and adjacent villages have been cleared of militants. Over 500 local and foreign terrorists were killed. Air Force planes have been attacking militant hideouts in Shawal, where hundreds of local and foreign terrorists are reported to have moved in after the operation was launched in Miramshah.

An official in the office of Bannu’s deputy commissioner said evacuation of civilians from the mountainous Shawal area, near the Afghan border, would start on Friday. They will arrive at the Sidgai checkpost in Frontier Region Bannu for registration – mandatory for receiving cash and food assistance.

The Fata Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) has deputed staff at the checkpost where about 4,000 families are expected to come from Eidek. An FDMA official said that arrangements had been made at the checkpost, including registration of IDPs, provision of cooked food, water and distribution of SIM cards. “We are prepared to tackle the new influx,” he added.

According to sources, the political authorities had issued notices to the residents of Eidek on Wednesday night, asking them to pack up their belongings. The residents accused the government of backing out of its commitment. A jirga of elders will be held on Friday to decide whether or not to leave homes.

An elder, Maulvi Mohammad Alam, told Dawn that before the operation Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Khalid Rabbani and the General Officer Commanding had assured them that they would not be evacuated.

The notices caused panic among the residents, he said. “This decision is not acceptable to the people and they will not vacate their homes.”

Maulvi Alam accused the authorities of violating the agreement under which the people had assured the corps commander that they will protect the area.

There was no justification for evacuation, he said, adding that the government had allowed transportation of rations and other basic commodities to the residents of Eidek and two convoys carrying food were recently sent to the village.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2014

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