Vaccinators boycott polio campaign in Razar

Demand greater security, as second vaccinator injured in the attack dies


​ Our Correspondent January 31, 2020
PHOTO: REUTERS

SWABI: Polio workers in Swabi’s Razar Tehsil on Wednesday announced boycott of the ongoing anti-polio campaign unless they are provided with better security. Their decision came as two vaccinators were gunned down in the tehsil.

Two female polio workers – Ghuncha and Shakeela – were vaccinating children in the Parmuli area of Razar Tehsil on Wednesday when they came under gun attack from unidentified assailants. Shakeela died on the spot while Ghuncha was left critically wounded.

She was rushed to the Mardan Medical Complex where she succumbed to her injuries on Thursday.

A large number of polio workers gathered at Ghuncha’s house on Thursday to condole with her family. The polio workers then held a meeting after attending her funeral.

During the meeting, the polio workers decided that they will not participate in the immunization drive until the provincial government provides them with stringent security.

IGP visits families

Separately, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Inspector General of Police Sanaullah Abbasi visited the families of the slain polio workers and offered his condolences. Police officials from Swabi district were also present on the occasion.

IG Abbasi also visited the site of the attack and directed the Swabi district police to ensure maximum security for polio workers and to arrest those involved in the murder of the two polio workers.

Shortly after the attack on Wednesday, police had launched a search operation for the suspects. The operation continued for a second day on Thursday and several suspects were apprehended from the area. The radius of the search was also extended to villages lying on the border between Buner and Swabi.

This was the second attack on polio workers in Swabi in as many years.  Last year, a technician of the Extended Programme on Immunisation was gunned down in the nearby Mir Ali area of the district.

As many as 1,158 police personnel had been deployed in the district while additional contingents of police have been deputed in the most volatile areas for the protection of polio workers. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2020.

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