SWAT: A new wave of fear has crept into the lives of people in Swat after miscreants demolished a boys’ school in Koza Bandai recently.
This was the third incident where a school was destroyed after operation Rah-e-Rast was launched by the Pakistan army in May 2009, and subsequently ended after the military claimed Swat had been cleared of militants.
The Taliban in Swat have claimed responsibility for these acts and have confessed to killing a member of the peace committee from the Dairai area a week back.
Though security forces launched search operations soon after the blast and arrested eight suspects, fear has set in among the local people.
Jan Alam, a resident of Koza Bandai, told The Express Tribune, “There are 5 check-posts in our area with 90 soldiers deployed there, members of the defence committee assist security forces in patrolling at night but still such an act took place.”
Young and old, everyone is scared for their lives Alam said, “the number of girls going to school each morning is going down each day.”
Bakht Sherawan, another resident of Koza Bandai, told The Express Tribune, “This was the last school escaping the evil motives of the Taliban as all the other schools of this area have been blown up.”
The people of Koza Bandai are very upset, Sherawan said, and to continue life as if nothing has happened is impossible. Before operation Rah-e-Rast insurgents in Swat had destroyed more than 400 schools as they thought that the syllabus being taught in those schools was un-Islamic and anti-Shariah.
This led to the deprivation of almost 8,000 students who were unable to go to school, most of them girls. After the operation Rah-e-Rast schools were reopened and the lives of residents were in the process of returning to normalcy when these incidents took place Social activist ad educationalist, Zia uddin Yousaf Zai, told The Express Tribune, “this is a slap on the face for the security forces, defence committees and civil society that despite the security measures taken these kind of actions were carried out successfully.”
After this incident, security measures by the army have been beefed up. “The miscreants could not destroy the school completely and only two rooms out of the ten have been completely destroyed, the army is strictly monitoring the whole area,” Colonel Arif said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2010.