PESHAWAR: The police have arrested 194 Afghan nationals here on the charges of rioting, damaging public property and shouting slogans against Pakistan during the celebrations of their country’s Independence Day on Thursday night.
The incident occurred at Phase III Chowk of the Hayatabad neighbourhood, where scores of Afghan nationals showed up to celebrate the Independence Day of Afghanistan.
In a statement, the city police said that the clashes erupted between Afghan and Pakistan youths after they had heated exchanges over the closure of Phase III Chowk, which caused a public nuisance.
Police official insists arrested men will be deported
They said that when their personnel reached the venue and tried to open the road, the Afghan nationals offered resistance and pelted them with stones.
The city police added that they took 20 rioters into custody there and eight more in the University Town neighbourhood.
After the incident,the police deployed their personnel at the Phase III Chowk and surrounding areas in large numbers to prevent any untoward situation and took scores of suspects into their custody.
They said that they were trying to verify the identity of rioters.
Rahim Khan, a resident of Hayatabad area, told Dawn that a large number of youths had gathered at the intersection and shouted slogans against the Afghan Taliban, while some played music at full blast.
He said that the locals also reached there after learning about the Afghanistan Independence Day celebrations through WhatsApp groups.
The resident said that as the police began arresting Afghan nationals, the mob went to other parts of Hayatabad locality waving Afghanistan’s national flags.
Kashif Ahmad, another resident, said that the locals heard noise and shouting of slogans, which were followed by the sounds of gunshots.
The police insisted that no suffered injuries in the clashes between Pakistani and Afghan youth.
A senior police official told Dawn that the police had registered FIRs against the suspected rioters at Hayatabad, University Town and Tehkal police stations.
He added that a total of four FIRs were registered against the suspects.
The official said that the police had also added various sections of the Foreigners Act to the FIR and planned to deport rioters on the court’s orders.
He said the FIRs were registered under sections 153-A, 147, 148, 149, 341 and 427 of the Pakistan Penal Code for spreading hatred, rioting, unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint and causing damages to the property and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
Meanwhile, the city police on Friday presented the suspected rioters before the judicial magistrate, who sent them to jail on 14 days remand.
The Afghan youth usually take out rallies on the eve of Afghanistan’s Independence Day, which falls on Aug 19.
However, the celebrations took place in the shadow of the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Taliban and subsequent clashes between the Afghan youth and Taliban militants over the latter’s attempts to remove Afghanistan’s national flag with their outfit’s white flag.
Several people lost life during protests over flag issue in different parts of the war-torn country.
Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2021