Militants have enlisted at least six children from Sheikhan village. To add to the worry of residents, the armed men have been actively preaching jihad to the villagers for the past few days without inviting any attention from law enforcement agencies, residents told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
Dozens of armed militants belonging to the banned outfit Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) visit Sheikhan after Iftar, and urge people to join hands with them.
“They come to the village in groups and check mobile phones and memory cards for songs and other such things,” said an elder. The armed men have snatched dozens of mobile sets with cameras since the start of Ramazan. The elder added militants were becoming a permanent nuisance, undetected by the police.
He blamed local law enforcement officials for not paying any attention to the situation and claimed that after nightfall militants virtually rule the area.
According to another local, at least six teenagers have joined the LI in the past two months. What militants preached was attractive, and easy-to-buy to quite an extent for the teenage boys, he added.
The six boys, whose ages range between 14 and 17 years, have now been moved to an undisclosed location for militant training.
In the past, militants have enlisted young men after showing them glimpses of a ‘better’ lifestyle in terms of finance and owning commodities.
“Nearly all the people from Akka Khel and Khyber Agency have migrated from their ancestral villages which means there is no recruiting ground left for Lashkar-e-Islam. But they solved their problem by focusing on a settled district instead,” he added.
A month ago, militants distributed pamphlets in Mashogagar village asking people not to shave their beards as it was un-Islamic. “Those barbers who violate this would be responsible for their own fate,” read the pamphlets hand-written in Pashto.
Residents say they live in an atmosphere of constant fear as police restricts themselves to check posts after dusk, leaving militants free to roam and do as they please.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.