The Kundi Inquiry Commission, – probing riots during a demonstration in Abbottabad on April 12, 2010, has held the administration, political leadership and security forces responsible for the deaths of several protesters, The Express Tribune has learnt.
According to a classified report obtained by The Express Tribune on Thursday, lack of coordination between the police and the district administration; inaction on part of the provincial and federal governments to respond to the demand of a separate Hazara province and failure of the political leadership to monitor and curb the role of “hidden hands” in rallies are a few reasons that resulted in the deaths and injuries of, several protesters on April 12, 2010. The report added that the violent protesters were also to share blame for the tragic incident.
The classified findings were made by the inquiry commission, headed by Justice Abdul Aziz Kundi of the Peshawar High Court. Several protesters were killed and many more injured on that day during a demonstration staged by the Hazara community following the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment — which authorised the renaming of NWFP as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Consequently, a commission was constituted by the provincial chief secretary under Section 3 of the West Pakistan Tribunal and Inquiry Ordinance 1969 to probe the incident.
“In fact, this proposal (of renaming the NWFP) and later its approval by both the houses of Parliament, ignited the long-suppressed wish of the people of Hazara for a separate province,” read the inquiry report.
According to the report, the rallies for the demand of Hazara province were initially peaceful but later turned violent. To avoid clashes between workers of the PML-N, PML-Q and Tehrik-e-Sooba Hazara after the latter had announced that it would hold a public meeting at Fawara Chowk the same time on April 12, 2010, the local administration had placed a ban on all public meetings and rallies.
The report said, “The police had arranged for additional deployment with the reinforcement of contingents from other districts of Hazara, besides calling forces of the Frontier Reserved Police.
“However, since they could not properly judge the gravity of the situation in the wake of the protest, which was stated to be the biggest in the history of the Hazara Division, the deployment of forces failed to control the situation.”
The inquiry commission said that while protesters started assembling at Fawara Chowk in the morning, “hide-and-seek” between the police and protesters began before security officials started using light “cane charge” to disperse the crowd. This sparked violence and ultimately resulted in the killing of several protesters.
The inquiry report added that the exact numbers of deaths could not be ascertained since the authorities, even the commissioner, failed to give a “correct picture of the incident”.
Correction: An earlier version of this story was incorrectly running a picture of Hazaras protesting in Quetta, while the headline misspelt “kundi” as “kindi”. The errors are regretted.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2012.