PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday disposed of a petition for removing landmines from South Waziristan and rest of merged tribal districts and asked the relevant quarters to respond to the residents’ complaints in this regard.

The court declared that an affected person should file a representation with the relevant administration and if there came no response from the administration, he should approach the court for the resolution of grievances.

The petition was filed by Sajjad Ahmad Mehsud and four other lawyers against the frequent landmine explosions in merged districts. The petitioners had demanded compensation under the Shuhada Package to the legal heirs of the landmine explosion victims and the residents, who suffered injuries or whose houses were damaged in those blasts. They requested the court to order the police to register landmine blast cases in their daily diaries to check discrimination against the residents of the erstwhile Fata.

A two-member bench of the PHC comprising Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar observed that the demining teams already working in those areas could be approached by anyone with information about the presence of landmines.

Advocate Sajjad Mehsud argued that the relevant agencies had not been taking the issue seriously and had not responded despite being given information about the presence of landmines in an area on different occasions. Additional Attorney General Aamir Javed contended that many demining teams were operating in different areas of tribal districts to remove unexploded ordnances, including improvised explosive devices and toy bombs.

An official of the security forces informed the bench that wherever the forces received information about the planting of landmines, they defused them, but during night-time, the miscreants plant more mines. He said the security forces need the cooperation of the local population and that if they received any information, they swiftly acted on it to defuse landmines.

Advocate Sajjad Mehsud said according to his information, about 800 people have lost lives in 178 landmine blasts in merged districts during the last 13 years. He said 250 children were rendered disabled, 77 lost eyesight in such incidents, while about 4,000 cattle have also been killed.

 

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