PESHAWAR: Five lawyers have moved the Peshawar High Court against the growing landmine explosions in the merged tribal districts, especially South Waziristan, and sought orders for the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to demine the region and compensate the families of blast victims.
In the joint petition, Sajjad Ahmad Mehsud and four other lawyers from former Federally Administered Tribal Areas said the landmine explosions were killing and injuring more and more residents but the relevant authorities were unmoved.
They requested the court to direct the respondents, including federal and KP governments, to remove landmines, especially in South Waziristan tribal district, and highlight the affected areas as Red Zone.
The petitioners requested the court to order the government to pay compensation under the Shuhada Package to the legal heirs of landmine explosions and to the residents, who suffered injuries or whose houses were damaged.
Petitioners seek removal of mines, compensation for explosion victims
They also sought orders for the police to register landmine blast cases in their daily diaries to check ‘discrimination’ against the residents of the erstwhile Fata.
The petitioners requested the court to direct the respondents to hold awareness seminars at district levels on a priority basis to protect the people’s life as guaranteed by the Constitution.
They claimed that during the last couple of years, around 178 landmine explosions had taken place in South Waziristan tribal district leaving 800 residents dead, 250 paralysed and 77 visually impaired.
The petitioners added that the residents also lost around 4,000 cattle heads to landmine blasts.
They said since May 28, 2021, three landmine explosions had taken place leaving 15 children and three army personnel dead.
The respondents in the petition are the defence and interior secretaries, KP chief secretary, secretaries of the home and relief and rehabilitation departments, provincial disaster management authority’s director general, inspectors General of Frontier Corps (North and South), provincial police chief, district police officers of the seven tribal districts, and deputy commissioner of South Waziristan tribal district.
The petitioners pointed out that a ‘verification report’ submitted to the high court by the political administration of South Waziristan area revealed that 896 residents were killed and 209 suffered serious injuries in drone strikes between 2008 and 2012.
They said several military operations were successfully carried out against militants in the erstwhile Fata and scores of security personnel, other officials and residents lost life in them.
The petitioners said large-scale displacement had taken place in the region during military operations against militants and the authorities gradually shifted the displaced people back assuring them that the region were cleared of all hazards.
They contended that it was the responsibility of the State to ensure the safety of the people and protect their fundamental rights.
The petitioners said several residents had approached the local administrations and police for the registration of cases over landmine explosions but neither FIRs were registered nor were the relevant families compensated.
They added that the compensation was given away to the government officials and security personnel in accordance with their respective Shuhada Packages but the residents of tribal districts didn’t get compensation over damage caused by landmine explosions.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021