Protests as Parachinar reels from killings of 8 people

Published May 5, 2023
Teacher’s protest in Parachinar continues. — Photo provided by the author
Teacher’s protest in Parachinar continues. — Photo provided by the author

Protests took place in the Parachinar area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kurram district on Friday, as the town mourned the deaths of eight people, including five teachers, who were killed in separate attacks yesterday.

On Thursday, unidentified gunmen killed one person in the town’s Shalozan area, after which seven people were gunned down at a school in the Teri Mangal area. Authorities have characterised the violence as the result of a “land dispute”.

Soon after the killings, Kurram Teachers Association representative Zahid Turi announced that all private and public schools would remain closed and the board exams for ninth and tenth grades had been postponed.

On Friday, Parachinar painted a desolate picture, as roads remained barren and markets remained shut. There were sporadic protests, which were carried out by mourners.

A market remains shut on Friday a day after gunmen killed eight people in Parachinar.— Photo provided by the author
A market remains shut on Friday a day after gunmen killed eight people in Parachinar.— Photo provided by the author

Teachers protested at Israr Shaheed High School Parachinar against the killings. “The protests will continue and the schools will remain closed until a proper investigation of the murders is carried out,” Sohail Zaman, a social studies teacher, told Dawn.com.

“If a teacher is absent from duty even for a single day, the administration and the education department take full notice of it, but no measures are taken to protect the teacher,” Zaman added.

Women hold banners in the Alizai area of Parachinar.—Photo provided by the author
Women hold banners in the Alizai area of Parachinar.—Photo provided by the author

A separate protest of women took place in the Alizai area of Parachinar. They held placards and banners, which said “Protect the teachers” and “It’s better to raise your voice than to carry the dead”.

Women hold placards in the Alizai area of Parachinar. — Photo provided by the author
Women hold placards in the Alizai area of Parachinar. — Photo provided by the author

Kurram Bar Council President Mehmood Ali Turi called for the courts to be closed as well out of protest, he said in a statement to Dawn.com.

Hospitals remained in a state of emergency and all the roads were shut down, according to Dawn.com’s correspondent in Parachinar.

Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Sajid Hussain Turi, who is a lawmaker from Kurram, along with the commissioner and deputy inspector general of police Kohat reached Parachinar.

“We will meet the tribal people and take the steps required to solve the problem,” stated Sajid in a statement to Dawn.com.

Burials

A representative of the Turi Bangash tribe, Inayat Turi, told Dawn.com that the burial of the seven deceased who belonged to the tribe had taken place. And soon after the prayers, a large procession of mourners had begun to make their way to the Parachinar Press Club.

Officials insist land dispute behind killings

Local officials had told Dawn yesterday that the people were killed over a shamlat land not demarcated between Gedu and Pewar villages.

They said the land dispute dated back to 1950s and had claimed 16 lives on both sides in 2021 when Gedu villagers objected to the felling of trees by Pewar villagers to use the wood for fuel near their area.

The officials, however, said a jirga decided at the request of Pewar villagers that they would be allowed to chop trees down outside Gedu Mozzah and away from the site of the Nov 2022 killing. It also decided that the land would be demarcated in line with revenue records to resolve the dispute.

However, Gedu villagers backed out leaving the issue unresolved. The sources said gunmen attacked three Gedu people leaving one dead. The Gedu villagers blamed Pewar for the killing.

Federal Minister Sajid Turi cast aspersions on the assertion. “If it was a land dispute, people of a single family would be killed which is not the case in this matter,” he stated

Reports sought

Yesterday, state broadcaster Pakistan Television Corporation reported that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incidents and had sought a detailed report from relevant authorities on the attacks.

Separately, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had said in a tweet that he, too, had sought a report from the interior secretary and assured that the perpetrators would be punished.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the office of KP caretaker Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan had attributed the killings to a property dispute.

The statement said the CM had taken notice of the matter and sought a report on the incidents from the police and the relevant administration.

It carried his instructions to take immediate measures for the arrest of those involved in the incidents.

“Nobody will be allowed to take the law into their hands. Those sabotaging peace in the area will be dealt with iron hands,” the CM said, vowing that the perpetrators of today’s incidents would be taken to task.

The statement said he issued directives for taking all the needed measures for ensuring peace in the area and the provision of timely treatment for the injured.

It added that the CM expressed grief over the loss of lives, terming the firing incidents “very unfortunate and condemnable” and extended condolences to the heirs of the victims.

Former prime minister Imran Khan tweeted on Friday condemning the “horrific, brutal killing of school teachers”.

“At this time of increasing terrorism and dire economist situation, with worst inflation in our history, what is PM doing going off for a coronation trip to UK?,” Imran added.

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