High court seeks govt reply in ex-Fata demining case

Published September 24, 2021
A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to respond to a petition seeking the demining of the merged tribal districts. — AFP/File
A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to respond to a petition seeking the demining of the merged tribal districts. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday directed the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to respond to a petition seeking the demining of the merged tribal districts, especially South Waziristan, and the payment of compensation to the families, whose members died in landmine explosions.

While ordering the filing of those replies within a week, Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Abdul Shakoor fixed Oct 14 for the next hearing into the petition.

Sajjad Ahmad Mehsud and four other lawyers had moved the court against the frequent landmine blasts in tribal districts, including South Waziristan, claiming these incidents are killing and injuring more and more residents but the relevant authorities are indifferent.

They requested the court to direct the respondents, including federal and KP governments, to remove landmines from the region, especially South Waziristan, and highlight the affected areas as Red Zone.

The petitioners sought the court’s orders for the government to pay compensation under the Shuhada Package to the legal heirs of landmine explosion victims and to the residents, who suffered injuries or whose houses were damaged in the blasts.

Petition calls for landmines’ removal, compensation

They requested the high court to direct the police to register the cases of landmine explosions in their daily diaries to check ‘discrimination’ against the residents of the erstwhile Fata.

The petitioners also sought orders for the respondents to hold awareness seminars at district levels on a priority basis to protect the people’s life as guaranteed by the Constitution.

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.

Advocate Sajjad Mehsud requested the bench to direct the police department and hospitals to register, during the pendency of the petition, the incidents of landmine explosions whenever they learned about or received the injured or the deceased.

He contended that the residents of the merged tribal districts were discriminated against as the local police didn’t register those cases unlike those functioning in the settled districts.

The lawyer contended 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 petitioners said several residents had approached the local administrations and police for the registration of cases after landmine explosions but neither FIRs were registered nor were the relevant families compensated for the damage to public life or property.

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 for the damage caused by landmine blasts.

The petitioners said large-scale displacement had taken place in the tribal region during military operations against militants but the authorities gradually shifted the displaced people back assuring them that the region were cleared of all hazards.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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