Bara IDPs hesitant to return home

Updated December 13, 2014


Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Bara Khyber Agency chant slogans in favor of their demands during protest demonstration outside Governor House building in Peshawar.—PPI/file
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Bara Khyber Agency chant slogans in favor of their demands during protest demonstration outside Governor House building in Peshawar.—PPI/file

LANDI KOTAL: A large majority of internally displaced persons from Khyber Agency’s Bara tehsil, who currently live in Jalozai camp, are reluctant to go home due to insecurity and damaged infrastructure.

IDPs told Dawn on Friday that neither peace had been fully restored in most parts of Bara nor had the damaged infrastructure, including major roads, in the militancy-hit tehsil had been repaired or rebuilt.

Read: Corps commanders discuss progress on military operations

Malik Imran, a member of the council of elders at Jalozai camp, said almost all IDPs would go back to their homes the moment peace was restored in Bara completely.

He said most IDPs were unable to protect themselves against militant groups operating in the area and therefore, they wanted security forces to take decisive action against such groups.

Also read: Govt approves army’s plan for IDPs’ return

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan had told a tribal jirga in Bajaur Agency on December 10 that the return of IDPs to North Waziristan and Bara would begin early next year.

“How could we return to our homes when most of us even do not have houses in place? The houses were either destroyed by militants or flattened in the aerial bombing and artillery shelling,” another resident of Jalozai camp Najeed Khan said, adding that most IDPs continued to live in fear.

Complain of insecurity, damaged infrastructure

The IDP said curfew and extensive body search at countless security checkpoints were hampering the return of displaced persons to Bara. “Security forces have shoot-at-sight orders and they do not differentiate between militants and non-combatants, while curfew is imposed every now and then without prior intimation,” he said.

Another IDP, Ali Akbar Akkakhel, said though life at Jalozai was miserable and displaced persons were confronted with numerous problems almost on daily basis, his family along with other hundreds of families living at the camp were not willing to go to Bara as situation had not yet fully returned to normal there.

“Not all Bara tehsil has been cleared of militant groups,” he said. The IDP said educational institutions, health centres and markets in Bara were completely destroyed and that it required huge sum of money and a long time for the government to repair and restore them.

“We will take no time in deciding to go back to Bara once the rehabilitation process is completed,” he said.

Bazaar Gul Afridi, a political activist, said the situation in Bara didn’t let IDPs return home.

“Damaged houses, lack of health and educational facilities, suspension of electricity and acute water shortage coupled with no or limited business and employment opportunities in Bara are the major reasons of IDPs not willing to return home,” he said.

The political activist asked why the government was showing haste in sending IDPs to Bara when the political administration itself had not yet restored its writ and established offices there.

Khyber Agency political agent Shahab Ali Shah said security duty in Bara would be assigned to Khyber levies force prior to the return of IDPs.

Addressing a levies darbar in Shah Kas on Friday, he lauded the efforts of the levies force against militancy and urged tribal forces to tighten their belts for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of militancy-hit areas.

The political agent said Khyber levies force would be equipped with modern and sophisticated weapons and that they would be provided with all perks and privileges on the pattern of police and regular security forces.

Published in Dawn December 13th , 2014