PARACHINAR: The followers of a Sufi saint in Kurram and Orakzai tribal districts have announced boycott of the anti-polio campaign starting on Monday to protest against the closure and deterioration of the shrine of Shah Anwar Shah.

Mahir Hussain, a spokesman for the committee set up to raise voice for repair and opening of the shrine to public, made the announcement at Parachinar Press Club on Sunday.

Flanked by other committee members, he said they were aware of the importance of vaccination of their children against polio but they wanted their religious freedom and rights too.

He said they had held jirgas and protests to demand reopening of the shrine for the followers of the Sufi saint and its renovation, but to no avail, forcing them to announce boycott of anti-polio drive.

The 200-year-old shrine of Sufi saint is located in Kalaya, Orakzai, but has followers scattered in Khyber and Kurram tribal districts.

The shrine was handed over to the government when militancy was on the rise for its safety back in 2006, but now despite protests the shrine is not being reopened or handed over to the followers, said Mahir Hussain. He said the FC allowed people for very short time to visit the shrine.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2019