Peshawar protesters end sit-in after governor vows probe
18 January, 2013
PESHAWAR/LANDIKOTAL: The tribal people who had been staging a sit-in with the bodies of their slain relatives outside the Governor's House ended their protest after an announcement of inquiry into the killings.
The busy Sher Shah Suri Road where the protest was being staged reopened to traffic. Around 5000 tribals of Bara Tehsil had camped outside the Governor's House with the bodies of their 18 slain relatives. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar met the representative jirga of Bara Tehsil of Khyber Agency on Wednesday and promised to order an inquiry into the tragic incident.
Speaking to a delegation of jirga members appointed by the families of deceased, the governor expressed his profound sorrow for the tragic loss and resolved to look after their welfare and well-being. The FATA additional chief secretary, law secretary, Peshawar commissioner, CCPO, and Khyber political agent held a meeting with the members of the jirga, to reach a mutually acceptable accord. Some of the demands from the jirga were compensation for the families, setting up of a judicial commission, release of innocent people detained with the Khyber political agent.
The tribesmen had on Wednesday brought the dead bodies outside the Governor's House, forcing Governor Masood Kausar to hold negotiations, which failed to satisfy the protesters. "Police used tear-gas shells and also fired to disperse the protesters," said one Rehman Afridi. The protesters have blamed the security forces for killing of the tribesmen in Bara town of Khyber tribal district. The government denies the allegation and blames Taliban militants.
The agitated protesters responded to the police action by hurling stones at policemen. Eyewitnesses said that the clashes resulted in aerial firing from both sides, which injured a few people. On Wednesday night, a communiqué from the Governor's House read that the governor's negotiations with the protesters were "successful" and they had dispersed peacefully. The governor also announced compensation for the victims' families.
However, in a pre-dawn operation, police took action to disperse the protesters from the Governor's House and took away the dead bodies. It is not clear where the bodies were taken. The protesters had been refusing to bury their dead until their demands were met, which include investigation into the killings.
The pre-dawn police operation was launched about 13 hours after around 300 people started a sit-in outside the Governor's House in Peshawar along with the bodies of those killed in the raid on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the protesters staged a sit-in outside the Peshawar High Court, demanding suo motu action from Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and resignation of KP Governor Masood Kausar.
Tribal political leaders, meanwhile, condemned shelling and baton charge on the peaceful protesters. The provincial government has violated the basic rights of peaceful protest and freedom of expression, tribal political figures said while condemning the provincial government led by the ANP. They said that the government has failed to protect the lives and properties of the tribal people in the ongoing military operations. They noted that the tribal people also have the democratic and constitutional right to record their peaceful protest as people in other parts of the country.
PTI's tribal leader Abdul Razaq Shinwari said that the military operations in FATA have proved futile because these they have complicated the daily lives of the tribal people. The PTI strongly condemned the killings of the "innocent" people in Bara. Jamaat-e-Islami Khyber Agency leader Hasan Shinwari and Murad Hussain Afridi have also flayed the baton charge and shelling by police on the protesters in Peshawar.