Necessary tradition?: Despite claims of security, aerial firing goes unchecked

Nine people injured by gunfire in Peshawar, following Eid announcement.

Riaz Ahmad August 20, 2012


A number of people in the city were injured after being hit by stray bullets from residents who used intense aerial fire as a way to celebrate Eid.

Nine people were brought to Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in critical conditions on Saturday night, and were still being treated by the time this report was filed.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Dr Inam at the LRH operation theatre said that by 12 noon they had received nine cases of patients seriously injured after being hit by the stray bullets.

“These patients were brought in from all the areas of the city... some of their injuries are quite critical,” he explained.

Aerial firing on special occasions and major festivals like Eid has become a well-accepted part of local culture, hindering efforts to contain it. Every year, several people were killed or injured after being hit by stray bullets in the district. Efforts to create awareness among the masses and to stop this custom have so far failed, and the tradition continues.

On Saturday, city police made their security plan public, claiming that 2,000 extra policemen had been provided to police stations to be deployed at mosques and parks where Eidul Fitr congregations would likely take place. However, despite this large-scale deployment plan, aerial firing continued unchecked.

“The custom of aerial firing on the occasion of marriages has largely been abandoned as cartridges are not that cheap anymore,” said Mukamal Shah, a local elder of Badabher.

“But on the eve of Eid, many youngsters still opt for it,” he added. According to Shah, the practice has decrease in intensity in the rural areas with the passage of time. He claimed, however, it had become more ‘fashionable’ inside the main city, which termed tragic.

“I have seen over the past few years that more and more people in the city have started carrying guns,” Shah said.  He further said that perhaps the increasing sense of insecurity forced them to buy weapons for self-defence.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2012.


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