PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday directed the federal government to produce a detailed report on landmine explosions in the merged tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, especially South Waziristan, within three weeks.
Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed M Attique Shah issued the directions to additional attorney general Amir Javed after holding preliminary hearing into the joint petition of Sajjad Ahmad Mehsud and four other lawyers against the frequent landmine blasts in tribal districts.
The petitioners sought the demining of the tribal region, especially South Waziristan, by the federal and provincial governments and compensation of the affected families. The date of next hearing will be fixed later.
The petitioners claimed that 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.
Petition seeks demining, compensation orders
The petitioners also sought orders for the government to pay compensation under the Shuhada Package to the legal heirs of landmine blasts and to the residents, who suffered injuries or whose houses were damaged.
They also demanded the registration of landmine blast cases by the police 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.
Sajjad Mehsud also requested the bench that until the petition was pending, the police department and hospitals be directed to register the incidents of landmines whenever an injured or a deceased person was taken to hospital or reported to the police.
He said the residents of merged tribal districts had been discriminated against as the local police didn’t register those cases unlike the settled districts.
The petitioner claimed that during the last couple of years, 178 landmine explosions had taken place in South Waziristan tribal district leaving 800 residents dead, 250 paralysed and 77 visually impaired.
He added that the residents had also lost around 4,000 cattle heads to landmine blasts.
The petitioner 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 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 said 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.
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.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2021