Afghan refugees on the rampage

This was not the first incident of its kind. From 1979 to 2021, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has faced scores of similar incidents of law-breaking. It was on August 19, 1919 that the British rulers gave independence to Afghanistan. Right from that time, the Afghans have been celebrating their ‘Independence Day’ on the given date. This celebration is meant for the Afghan nationals inside their homeland. No migrant Afghan can play loud music by blocking traffic on a German, a French or a British highway.

But that was exactly what the Afghan refugees were doing in the busy Phase Three Chowk of Hayatabad. A few of them sang and danced in Phase Two and on the Bab-i-Peshawar flyover. The dispute started when a group of local residents told the refugees not to block the traffic. Instead of listening to the locals, the refugees called more of their fellow refugees from the Board Bazaar, Tehkal and the Karkhano Markets. When police arrived to clear the road, the revellers pelted stones on the vans of the SHO and the DSP Hayatabad.

Police exercised some restraint, because it was the ninth of Muharram. It did not want the incident to escalate into a wider law and order problem. Additional police contingents were called, which rounded up about 194 refugees, who did not even have any identity documents. Cases were booked against them for rioting, damaging the public property and raising anti-Pakistan slogans. These cases were registered in the police stations of Hayatabad, University Town and Tehkal.

They were produced in the court of the duty magistrate, who sent them on a 14-day judicial remand to the Central Jail. Inside the prison, they clashed with the other inmates and got a thorough beating. The law enforcing agencies said that some of the prominent law-breakers might be deported to Afghanistan.