Soon after a 7.5 temblor killed 33 people and devastated over 19,000 houses in Chitral, the district residents felt the cold setting in. Winter was coming and nothing—no one—else was there to give them cover. A few days after the quake, residents realised government help was still far. And seven months later, they are still alone.
Over 450 quake-hit families of Darosh are persisting with their protest for a sixth consecutive day in Chitral, claiming Deputy Commissioner Osama Ahmed Warraich has not shown up for negotiations after promising talks to discuss relief and compensation for earthquake victims.
Protest leader Abdul Bari told The Express Tribune Chitral district nazim Maghfirat Shah and Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Ghafar vowed to hold negotiations to find a solution to the problems. However, these were just empty promises and the protesters waited many hours for the officials to make an appearance. They claimed the administration was offended by the protest and would only hold talks once the demonstration was called off.
The speakers demanded routes be opened so they could march towards Afghanistan. They planned to use the threat to migrate to the neighbouring country as a bargaining chip to get the relief they needed to rebuild their lives. However, the administration seemingly paid no heed and they continued the protest. The demonstrators threatened not to budge unless their demands were met.
The protesters claimed they were being forced to live under the open sky despite the fact that rain lashed different parts of Chitral Monday morning.
The speakers demanded tents from the Chitral Scouts commandant, however, he had yet to respond. the deputy commissioner asked the protesters to meet him at his office for talks.
The additional deputy commissioner claimed to have held discussions and negotiations with the protesters.
Around 450 earthquake affected families held a sit-in at Mir Khani against the failure of the administration to provide relief and rehabilitation. The protest started on April 27 and participants threatened to march towards Afghanistan. However, they were stopped by the Chitral Scouts and remained on the road instead.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority said it had released Rs16.6 billion in funds for quake affected people of Chitral along with other relief goods.
Officials of the PDMA accused the Chitral district administration of failing to provide goods for the affected people in a timely manner.
“We provided funds to the Chitral district administration on time and the PDMA, as a coordinating body, has completed its job. Now, it is the deputy commissioner’s responsibility to distribute funds and provide relief to the victims,” said the official who provided the document.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2016.
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