PESHAWAR: A Bara-based peace militia has asked every household on the border of the settled district and Khyber Agency to donate an automatic AK-47 rifle and send one volunteer from their families.
On Sunday afternoon, the militia, popularly known as the Bara aman committee, allegedly arrested more than 50 people from Bara Qadeem and Bajry area and shifted them to Khyber Agency.
“They told us that it is our responsibility to bring peace to the nation,” said a resident. “We were told that we have no option but to donate a rifle and provide one volunteer from each household to fight militant outfit Lashkar-e-Islam,” he added.
Furthermore, verbal messages have been sent to more than 250 houses, creating unrest among the poor. “An automatic rifle costs about Rs100,000,”another resident said, adding that they cannot afford the weapon or send a man from their family to fight militancy. “It is not our duty.”
“You cannot force people to fight militancy. These peace militias are no better than Lashkar-e-Islam, who forced people the same way but at least targeted the rich,” he said.
Head of the peace committee, Haji Dawa Khan, denied allegations of the arrests. “These people had requested us to show them our headquarters so we sent some men to bring them here, and they have assured us their full cooperation,” Khan said, claiming that the residents had come of their own will. He added that their names have been written in a register and refused to further comment on the issue.
The peace militias in the area have previously been blamed for extra-judicial killings and extortion for which the government took stern action. In May this year, there was a huge uproar when the famous Adezai peace militia decided to quit its fight against militancy.
The areas on the outskirts of the Peshawar bordering Khyber Agency and in particular the village of Bajri, have been targeted by militants several times in the past year. However, residents have been troubled by the war between the privately-governed militias and militants.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.
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