PESHAWAR: More than 49,000 persons took part in violent protests on May 9 and 10 in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said Barrister Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel, the caretaker provincial minister for information.

Addressing a press conference, he said that police detained 2,528 protesters in connection with violent protests from across the province on charges of damaging and destroying public and private properties.

He said that authorities made the arrests for damaging government, private and military properties after analysing 575 video footages and 2,723 images. He said that rioters protested at about 198 places across the province during the two days and blocked 443 roads.

“More than 49,000 persons took part in these protests,” said Mr Kakakhel. He said that rioters damaged public and military properties in Peshawar district. He said that on May 9, more than 8,600 protesters demonstrated at 10 locations in the provincial capital. On May 10, about 3,400 persons protested at nine locations and on May 11, more than 2,900 persons held demonstrations at six places in Peshawar.

Jamal Shah Kakakhel says so far 2,528 people have been arrested

He said that the protesters tried to enter Khyber Road where corps commander house, provincial assembly and other civil and military installations were located. He said that they also torched the Radio Pakistan Peshawar building along with several vehicles. Two employees of Radio Pakistan were also injured in the attack, he added.

Mr Kakakhel said that 21 persons detained in connection with torching of Radio Pakistan building.

He said that protesters also attacked the provincial office of Election Commission of Pakistan and damaged it. He said that the crowd also looted an arms shop near Hashtnagri.

He said that the rioters also damaged police and army checkposts, looted ATMs, damaged banks and stole CCTV cameras from Islamabad-Peshawar Motorway interchange. He added that 1,730 people were arrested during violent protests while 749 cases were registered under Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The minister said that violent protests took place on the front and back sides of Punjab Regiment Centre in Mardan. On May 9, more than 5,500 people took part in the protests at 16 locations in Mardan. On May 10, about 250 persons protested at one place and more than 500 people held demonstrations on May 11. He added that 37 rioters were arrested in Mardan on the spot.

Similarly, he said, Bannu Cantonment was attacked from two sides by the protesters. He said that hundreds of protesters took part in the demonstrations at different parts of the district and destroyed properties.

In Malakand district, about 2,500 protesters torched Swat Motorway interchange. Similarly, a mob of over 4,000 persons stormed Chakdara Fort and destroyed government vehicles and other properties. He said that police arrested 47 rioters in Chakdara.

In Timergara area of Lower Dir, a crowd pelted stones at the headquarters of Dir Scouts. They mob also set on fire Army Public School. He said that 75 accused were detained in connection with the torching of APS Balambat.

In Swabi district, a mob burned down both toll plazas of Swat and Islamabad motorways and 162 persons were detained in that connection, said the minister.

He said that mob in Charsadda attacked motorway toll plaza while more than 2,500 persons demonstrated near the central jail in Kohat district.

Mr Kakakhel said that government would take strict action against the people involved in rioting, arson and destruction of properties.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023

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