SHABQADAR: Shaheed Banda, a battlefield of Mohmand Mujahideen and British during the latter’s rule in the Subcontinent in early twentieth century, saw more bloodshed on February 17. Khawaldar Multan Khan and eight of his fellow khasadar force personnel were slain as suspected militants launched two attacks in Mohmand Agency late Wednesday night.
Two separate groups of militants struck almost simultaneously at a khasadar checkpoint in Pandyali area of Mohmand. They also shot dead two other officials who were standing guard at a solar-powered tube well in Michni area of the agency.
Cycle of dependency
Multan’s young son and three daughters were oblivious to what had happened as scores of people gathered in their house on Wednesday to offer condolences to the slain hero’s family.
According to the brother of the deceased, Taj Bostan, the children and their mother have no one else to support them except Multan’s 80-year-old father, Zareen Khan.
Not young enough anymore, Zareen, had nominated his youngest son, Khawaldar Multan Khan, of his eight sons, to serve in the khasadar force instead of himself.
Iftikhar Khan, a khasadar friend of the deceased said Multan had migrated from Pandyali to Shaheed Banda to take care of his old and ill father. “Who will take care of his frail dad now?” he questioned. “Since the position is hereditary and was his father’s, government’s policy dictates compensation awarded will be of the kind given to an ordinary victim; not a martyred hero that Multani was.”
Ali Murad, a higher ranking khasadar official concurred and said, “Multan died while on duty – in his uniform; he deserves the compensation package for martyred officials which is at least Rs3.6 million.” Murad added the system is “highly unfair” as it fails to recognise the services of khasadar employees and does not compensate them justly.
Bostan, told The Express Tribune, while he and his brothers were digging and collecting stones for construction – a famous occupation in their vicinity along with trucking – Multan served bravely in the khasadar force.
“When many people were leaving khasadar forces due to the fear of militants and their targets, my brother opted for duty at the risky Lottery check post, and was also made commander of two posts in the most dangerous area,” said Bostan.
Swelling with pride, he added, “When he received information about a militant attack in Lower Mohmand Agency, instead of leaving his position, my brother fought on.”
Multan’s friend and fellow khasadar officer, Saadullah, said Multan was commonly known as “Commander Multani” and had a motorbike ready for the assistance of anyone who needed it. “Whenever there was an accident on the road or a bomb blast or attack somewhere, Multani would hop on to his bike and rush to help the injured,” Saadullah said.
Multan Khan. PHOTO: FILE
“However, on February 17, he did not come [back] on his motorbike, but in an ambulance draped in white sheets.”
Saadullah shared Multani was commanding two posts in one of the most precarious areas – weak mobile signals, lack of walky-talkies or other communication equipment made contact with high officials and command centres in cases of attacks on posts almost impossible. “When all magazines in his Kalashnikov ended, Multani [had nothing to stop] the surge of bullets directed at him and lost the battle with the militants,” he said.
Saadullah added since the khasadar force position is hereditary, employees fight with their own, very old weapons without any facilities from the government. “We use old 303 guns or Kalashnikovs while militants have rocket launchers and other automatic weapons,” he said. “The government should assist us in our fight and provide us with modern equipment.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2016.