PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has asked the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to submit reply about clearing of landmines from merged tribal districts and payment of compensation to affected people within one week.

Five lawyers from merged districts have approached the court with a petition to order the federal and provincial governments to take steps for clearing landmines from these areas and compensate the affected families.

The petitioners say several residents of merged districts had approached the local administrations and police for the registration of cases after landmine explosions but neither FIRs were registered nor were the victim families compensated. They say that compensation was given away to the government officials and security personnel in accordance with their respective Shuhada Packages, but the residents of tribal districts didn’t get compensation for the damage caused by landmine blasts.

A two-member bench of the PHC headed by Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid heard the case on Thursday. After seeking replies from the Centre and KP, the court fixed Oct 14 for the next hearing into the petition.

The petition has requested compensation for victim families of landmine blasts and running awareness campaigns in this regard through seminars and workshops. A petitioner, Sajjad Ahmed Advocate, says according to his information, about 800 people have lost lives in 178 landmine blasts in merged districts during the last 13 years. He says 250 children were rendered disabled, 77 lost eyesight in such incidents, while about 4,000 cattle have also been killed.

Sajjad Ahmed says a large number of children have been deprived of education due to landmine blasts. He says the children who were disabled in such blasts cannot scale mountains to reach their schools.

“When we were returning to our areas after life of displacement, we were told that the entire area is clear, but such incidents have increased during the last three years. Whenever there is a function or gathering like Eid, wedding etc, someone is trapped in landmine, and the happy occasion turns into one of grief and sorrow,” he said.

Sajjad Ahmed says the government should treat all the victims of landmine blasts equally and all must be compensated without any discrimination.

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