Janikhel protesters call off demonstration after talks with govt officials

Published March 29, 2021
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan prays with other members of the negotiations upon a successful settlement. — Photo provided by Sirajuddin
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan prays with other members of the negotiations upon a successful settlement. — Photo provided by Sirajuddin
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan signs the settlement with the protesters. — Photo provided by Sirajuddin
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan signs the settlement with the protesters. — Photo provided by Sirajuddin

Talks between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and local tribesmen, protesting the killing of four teenage boys in the province's Bannu district, were successful on Monday.

The tribesmen and the relatives of the slain teenagers — aged between 13 to 17 years — had been protesting the brutal killings for the last six days. The boys had gone missing three weeks ago. They were identified as Ahmadullah, Mohammad Rahim, Razamullah, and Atifullah.

After staging a week-long sit-in outside the Janikhel police station, around 10,000 people had embarked on a long march to Islamabad on Sunday along with the bodies of the slain boys, demanding action against anti-state elements.

"KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan personally accepted the settlement and the demands of the protesters," government spokesperson Kamran Bangash said. Jirga mediators including cabinet members were also present on the occasion, he said.

Speaking to Dawn.com, Lateef Wazir — a prominent organiser and active member of the protest — said protesters would be returning to Janikhel where the funeral of the slain boys will be held.

Wazir said the protestors had spent the night in Bannu under the open sky, waiting to move to Islamabad. "But our jirga elders held talks with the government and the government accepted all demands," he said.

MNA Mohsin Dawar and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen, who were briefly detained on Sunday, were also released after the agreement was reached, party sources said.

According to the agreement, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the protesters agreed to immediately call off and end the protest.

The government will ensure peace and security in the Janikhel area and purge the area of any groups seeking to cause unrest, the agreement said. It added that no legal weapons would be taken from the homes of peaceful residents and no homes would be destroyed in the process to ensure peace.

"The four martyred (individuals) will receive a Shuhada Package," the agreement added; this had been one of they key demands of the protestors for the families of the victims.

Development packages would also be provided for Janikhel by the government and arrangements would also be made for the people to meet with government officials to find solutions to their problems, it stated.

An investigation and review would also be immediately started of Janikhel detainees in government custody and would be completed within three months. "Innocent individuals will be released on a priority basis and a decision in accordance with the law will be taken for anyone found guilty," it said.

People arrested from Janikhel and other nearby areas in the protest would also be immediately released, the agreement said.

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