The displaced population from North Waziristan Agency (NWA) took to the streets of Bannu on Saturday to voice their grievances against the hostile attitude of police and customs officials.
A large number of internally displaced persons (IDP) marched through various parts of the city and landed outside Bannu Press Club. They shouted slogans against the Bannu police and urged Governor Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman to take notice of the negative attitude shown towards them.
While addressing participants outside the press club, speakers said many IDPs had brought non-custom paid vehicles with them when they were displaced when Operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched in North Waziristan in June 2014. The displaced population had even registered these vehicles with the relevant police station as per the government’s orders. However, the tribespeople say police and customs officials have repeatedly been demanding bribes over non-custom paid vehicles.
The speakers said they had taken the matter up with the government. However, their grievances have fallen on deaf ears.
Hanifullah, a tribal elder from NWA expressed concern over “delaying tactics used by officials of the FATA Disaster Management Authority (FDMA) to pay cash grants to IDPs”.
Speaking to journalists at Bannu Press Club, the tribal elder said FDMA had failed to pay compensation to IDPs every month as well as during Eidul Fitr and Ramazan. He urged the government to provide facilities to IDPs and not create additional complications for them.
In June 2014, the federal government announced Rs12,000 as monthly aid for each registered displaced family. FDMA was authorised to disburse this amount through a cellular network’s SIMs. However, numerous tribespeople have complained they have not received the grant. Many of them have complained they have not been registered as IDPs because they have dual addresses on their national identity cards.
At least 162 displaced families returned to their homes in NWA on Saturday. Officials privy to the matter told The Express Tribune IDPs who returned home received a warm welcome at Mirzael check post and were escorted by personnel of armed forces to their homes.
A day earlier, 125 families, comprising 719 people, were sent home to Eidak. IDPs who are being repatriated are mostly from Baran camp in Bakakhel, Bannu. A large number of tribespeople in Bannu have returned to Eidak since the fourth week of June.
However, displaced persons who have returned to Eidak are finding it difficult to go back to their old routine in a place that has remained abandoned for over a year.
Even though the armed forces have arranged for food and other bare essentials, most residents who have returned are facing countless problems. Their houses are in a dilapidated condition and many of them have lost their sources of income.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2015.