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Call for judicial probe into killing of five men in Hayatabad operation

Updated April 26, 2019

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Khyber district tribal leader Rahim Shah Afridi addresses a press conference at Peshawar on Thursday.—Online
Khyber district tribal leader Rahim Shah Afridi addresses a press conference at Peshawar on Thursday.—Online

PESHAWAR: A group of Afridi tribe’s elders belonging to Khyber district has described the killing of five suspects in an operation in Hayatabad as a fake encounter and called upon the government to announce a judicial inquiry into the incident within three days. Otherwise, they warned, the Afridi tribe would announce an agitation plan against the killings and its responsibility would rest with the rulers.

They were speaking at a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club here on Thursday.

The elders led by nationalist leader Rahim Shah Afridi said that they were not ready to accept the police version about the April 16 encounter, adding that the victims had nothing to do with terrorism and that the police had labelled them as terrorists without any proof.

Besides other elders, Jalil Afridi — a cousin of Amjad Afridi who was among those killed in the Hayatabad operation — was also present in the press conference.

He told media persons that the deceased had recently returned from abroad to face a court case for his reinstatement in a food department.

Elders of Afridi tribe warn of launching protest movement against incident

Some other elders, including Aftab Shinwari and Ajmal Afridi, said that the incident had shocked the people of Khyber district as they had nothing to do with terrorism. They said the police had intentionally linked the victims to terrorism and thus gave a bad name to the people of the whole district.

“All the tribes of Khyber district have devised a plan to announce a protest movement for an indefinite period if the government did not approve a judicial probe into the incident and the destruction of the house where the accused persons were killed,” Rahim Shah said.

He said that every educated person knew the motive behind the destruction of the house after the killing of the victims. He claimed that the bodies were removed from the debris in a haste, adding that such steps were taken in a baffling situation just to hide the weakness of the police in the operation.

The Afridi tribe, he claimed, was ready to prove that Amjad Afridi was innocent and his killing was the part of a well-organised conspiracy to give a bad name to the people of his area. He said that the Afridi tribe wanted to clarify its position and would not accept the label attached to them.

“Different tactics are being used to put pressure on the family members of Amjad Afridi so that they could not raise their voice for a judicial probe into the incident,” he claimed and warned that the tribal elders would not bow to any pressure and continue to raise the issue at all available forums for seeking justice.

He warned that after three days the people of the district would start protest demonstrations across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa if the government did not announce a judicial inquiry.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019