PHC orders action on S. Waziristan landmine complaints

Published October 15, 2021
A file photo of a landmine. — AFP
A file photo of a landmine. — AFP

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday disposed of a petition for the demining of the merged tribal districts, especially South Waziristan, asking the relevant teams to respond to the residents’ complaints about landmines.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar observed that the demining teams already working in those areas could be approached by anyone with information about the presence of landmines.

It directed those teams and the residents to cooperate with each other.

The petition was filed by Sajjad Ahmad Mehsud and four other lawyers on behalf of the people against the frequent landmine explosions in the tribal districts, including South Waziristan.

Asks residents to approach demining teams

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

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

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

About compensation for the landmine explosion victims, the bench declared that an affected person should file a representation with the relevant administration and if there came no response from the administration, he should approach the court for the resolution of grievances.

Advocate Sajjad Mehsud argued that the relevant agencies had not been taking the issue seriously and had not responded despite being given information about the presence of landmines in an area on different occasions.

Additional attorney general Aamir Javed contended that scores of demining teams were operating in different areas of tribal districts to remove unexploded ordnances, including improvised explosive devices and toy bombs.

He added that landmines and other unexploded ordnances were posing threats to the life of civilians as well as military personnel, and several of the personnel had embraced martyrdom in the landmine blasts during the last couple of years.

Mr Javed pointed out that while most of the areas had already been cleared of landmines, some places had yet to be cleared.

An official of the security forces informed the bench that wherever the forces received information about the planting of landmines, they defused them, but during nighttime, the miscreants planted more mines.

He said the security forces needed the cooperation of the local population and that if they received any information, they swiftly acted on it to defuse landmines.

The petitioners 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.

They added that the residents had also lost around 4,000 cattle heads to landmine blasts.

The respondents in the petition were 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.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2021

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