KP police arrest 471 parents for refusing polio vaccine

Published March 2, 2015
A Pakistani polio vaccine volunteer student stops a bus for during a 'kid's vaccination campaign'.—AFP/File
A Pakistani polio vaccine volunteer student stops a bus for during a 'kid's vaccination campaign'.—AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Police on Monday registered cases against more than 1,400 people in Peshawar for refusing to vaccinate their children against polio during the ongoing drive in the provincial capital.

According to a source in the police, the city police have also arrested 471 parents under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) on the directives of Deputy Commissioner Riaz Khan Mehsud who have been sent to jail for refusing the vaccine.

The source added that police officials have initiated a crackdown against the rest of the accused people.

The local administration has ordered the implementation of Section 144 in the wake of the anti-polio drive in the city.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic but years of efforts to stamp it out have been badly hit by reluctance from parents, opposition from militants and attacks on immunisation teams.

The virus is most prevalent in the country's restive northwest and a fresh immunisation drive began on Monday aimed at vaccinating more than 2.7 million children in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The government declared “war” on polio last year and Mehsud said officials would brook no refusal from parents.

“There is no mercy, we have decided to deal with the refusal cases with iron hands. Anyone who refuses (the vaccine) will be sent to jail,” Mehsud said.

Those arrested on Monday were from suburban areas of Peshawar where militant groups regularly attack police and polio workers and where opposition to vaccination is relatively strong.

Muhammad Mumtaz, another senior official, confirmed the arrests and said that the detainees would “be freed only after a written assurance and providing two guarantors” to ensure their children get the drops.

Taliban militants claim that the polio vaccination drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims.

They stepped up their attacks after a Pakistani doctor was recruited by the CIA to set up a hepatitis immunisation drive as part of efforts to track down Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.

Last year, the number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan soared to 306, the highest in 14 years.

At least nine new cases have so far been detected in 2015.

Opinion

Editorial

Post-flood economy
Updated 24 Sep, 2022

Post-flood economy

WITH a third of the country — especially Sindh and Balochistan — under water, over 33m people displaced, and...
Panadol shortage
24 Sep, 2022

Panadol shortage

FROM headaches to fever to bodily pain — paracetamol is used ubiquitously in Pakistan as the go-to remedy for most...
Star-struck cops
24 Sep, 2022

Star-struck cops

IN this age of selfies and social media, it is easy to get carried away in the presence of famous people, even if ...
Timely remorse
Updated 23 Sep, 2022

Timely remorse

The country needs more leaders, not rabble-rousers.
Miranda Warning
23 Sep, 2022

Miranda Warning

BEATINGS, rape, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, even waterboarding — the Punjab Police is notorious for...
Nuclear geopolitics
23 Sep, 2022

Nuclear geopolitics

TWO key international issues — Iran’s stand-off with the West over the former’s nuclear programme, and Russian...