Chaman protesters ransack DC office after camps razed

Chaman protesters ransack DC office after camps razed

QUETTA, JUN 6: After local authorities uprooted protesters’ camps and opened the Quetta-Chaman Highway in the early hours of Wednesday, participants of a sit-in ransacked the deputy commissioner’s office in response, resulting in seven arrests.

The highway, which was opened for traffic after the operation, was subsequently blocked again, leading to the suspension of all kinds of trade and traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan from the border crossing.

Officials said the local administration, Frontier Corps and Levies officials had conducted an operation and removed all boulders and barriers from the road. Some accounts suggested that the protesters’ camps had been set on fire.

After the road was re-opened, hundreds of trucks and other vehicles loaded with Afghan transit, import and export goods, which had been stranded in Shela Bagh, managed to cross.

But as soon as security personnel left the scene, the participants of the sit-in blocked the highway again and pelted trucks and Levies officials with stones in the Garang area, a locality on the outskirts of Chaman.

In order to disperse the crowd, the police and Levies officials used tear gas shells to control the situation. However, tensions continued to escalate and a large number of people gathered in front of the DC office in Chaman on Wednesday to lodge their protest against the operation in Garang.

During the demonstration, a group of protesters entered the DC office and ransacked it, damaging furniture, computers and other equipment. However, the levies force, which was deployed at the office, dispersed the crowd and arrested seven protesters.

Local journalists at the scene said that some of the protestors also hurled stones at the building of the Chaman Press Club, located in the compound of the DC complex. As a result, its windows were also smashed.

According to DC Athar Abbas Raja, the protesters were present outside his office in the late evening and a dialogue was underway to resolve the situation. He confirmed the arrest of seven people in connection with the attack on his office. On the other hand, protestors said that the spokesmen of the sit-in committee, Sadiq Achakzai and Ghousullah, were also taken into custody.

In a statement, the district administration said during the anti-polio campaign, an unpleasant incident took place in which some miscreants attacked the polio team and injured two levies personnel and had also beaten up female polio workers. It further said the deputy commissioner held negotiations with the sit-in committee leader for law and order in Chaman.

However, during the negotiations, some of the protestors attacked Deputy Commissioner Athar Abbas Raja and ransacked his office, it claimed.

“The protesters have crossed the red line and now FIR would be registered against them on terror charges,” the statement said.

Shahid Rind, a spokesman for the Balochistan government, said the protesters had challenged the writ of the state many times during the past several months. “Provoking the people for revolt against the state in the name of the sit-in is no longer accepted,” he warned and said that action would be taken against such elements.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Mir Zia Ullah Langove asserted that peace would be restored by taking action against the troublemakers. He also mentioned that compensation was being paid to those affected by the border trade and added that the ‘one document regime’ is a “constitutional requirement”.

A spokesperson for the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party also condemned the crackdown on the sit-in, as well as the subsequent arrests. In a statement issued on Wednesday, he demanded the release of the detained protesters.