Fight against polio: Tribesmen fined by militants for vaccinating their children

Published: March 9, 2013

According to Salman, a local LI commander, identified as Nazar had warned the tribesmen not to vaccinate their children. DESIGN: MANAHYL KHAN

PESHAWAR: 

Families which vaccinated their children against polio in Bara, Khyber Agency, have reportedly been fined and threatened by militants.

Salman Afridi*, a resident of Bachi Nehar in Sipah, Bara, said around 20 families in Speen Qabar and Bachi Nehar, Sipah vaccinated their children against polio.

After the vaccination team left the area on Thursday evening, militants of banned outfit Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) arrived in four vehicles and surrounded the area, said Salman. They then took parents of the immunised children to a ground and trussed them up, he added.

According to Salman, a local LI commander, identified as Nazar had warned the tribesmen not to vaccinate their children. Approximately 20 people were tied by Nazar, who demanded Rs20,000 be paid for their release.

Shahbaz Khan Afridi* from Speen Qabar, Sipah said those who paid the fine were released with a warning to refrain from further immunisation, which was deemed “a conspiracy against Islam by infidels”.

Shahbaz said he borrowed the amount to pay for his safe release. “I don’t know where the security and political administration officials were when we were tied and beaten up,” he complained.

Bara Political Administration official Arshid Afridi said PA officials reached Sipah once they were informed about the incident, but by then the LI militants had fled. “I didn’t know and no one told me the families were fined by the militants.”

Residents of Sipah have decided to boycott future anti-polio campaigns.

*The names of tribesmen have been changed to protect their identities

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2013.

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