Preparing for upcoming onslaught of monsoon fury
By Afzal Hussain Bokhari
On second of July Raaziullah Aamir alias Aamray was taken in tight security to the court of Judicial Magistrate Farooq Shah, who recorded his statement under section 164 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), in three hours. Aamray stated that apart from SHOs Imranuddin and Shehryar Khan, 11 other officials beat him up. He further stated that he would be able to recognise all of the nominated persons at the time of an identity parade, if and when that legal formality would ever be arranged. Independent observers feared for Aamray’s life as he was caught up in a high-profile case involving the future of many police officials right from foot constables up to SSP (operations), SHOs and head constables falling in-between. Due to public pressure, an inquiry into the case was taken back from high police officers and a judicial commission was formed. Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth of Peshawar High Court issued the order that the judicial commission would work under the supervision of Justice Laal Jan Khattak of PHC. The commission would pinpoint as to which persons were responsible for the incident. It would look for reasons behind the crime and suggest ways to avoid the repetition of such an incident in future. PHC appointed Additional District and Sessions Judge Yasir Shabbir as Registrar of the commission and Additional District and Session’s Judge Syed Hassan Raza as spokesman of the commission. Meanwhile, the two corona-infected SHOs continue to be admitted to Government Police Hospital, where doctors keep them under constant watch. Doctors believe that if the SHOs are allowed to go home, they will be an open risk to the public. The SHOs personally tend to shy away from appearing before any high-powered judicial probe commission. They fear that a PHC judge with the stature of Justice Laal Jan Khattak may see through their façade of corona illness and thus convict them to maximum punishment of rigorous imprisonment in jail. As far as climatic conditions are concerned, the rain-laden monsoon winds have entered the country. Widespread rains in all the four provinces have provided the much-needed relief. However, generally speaking, the early July sun normally has no mercy for the toiling masses. The hot spell is ruthless, as always. Rickshaw drivers and taxi-cab operators wrap themselves up in wet clothes. With open beaks, thirsty birds hide their colourful plumage in green tree branches. Busy Qissa Khwani Bazaar wears a deserted look. Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Peshawar emerged as KP’s top three cities, where daytime temperature was recorded respectively at 42, 41 and 40 degrees Centigrade. Fifty-one percent humidity in air made the matters worse. High temperature makes the water vapours in air boil. With boiling water vapours constantly touching our skin, we sweat profusely to the extent of getting dehydrated. This state of affairs prevailed in the provincial metropolis. Sweltering heat visibly slowed down the financial activity in busy markets in Saddar, University Town and along GT Road. Unusual indeed are the times we are living in. Covid-19 pandemic, inclement weather, the Al Nino factor, hot spells, sun strokes, NDMA’s monsoon alerts, echoes of minus-one formula in national politics, smart lockdowns, job cuts, financial scams, and NAB probes. The list is endless. Only those with steel nerves can survive the ordeal. Gruesome tragedies have become quite common in recent years. Crowd that converged on Mohalla Jogan Shah after sunset carried Peshawar’s proverbial diversity. Muslims, Christians, Hindus and members of the Sikh community gathered from nearby localities to share the grief of the Sikh family living there. About 20 dead bodies of the family had been airlifted by a special PAF plane. The very sight of the rows of coffins lined up in a local ‘gurdwara’ could shake up the most composed of the guests. Some of the observers said that after the Kohati Gate Church blast, this was probably the second saddest day for the minority community. In order to condole the death of a relative, the Sikh family from Mohalla Jogan Shah had hired three coaster vans from Peshawar and proceeded to Punjab’s famous town Nankana Sahab (near Sheikhupura), where the founder of Sikh faith Baba Guru Nanak was born. On the return journey from Nankana to Peshawar, a tragedy befell the family. Between Sacha Sauda and Bahali stations, the manned railway crossing was being closed because Lahore-bound Shah Hussain express train from Faisalabad had been given the green signal. While two of the coaster vans hurriedly passed through, the iron gates of the crossing were banged shut on the third coaster. Instead of waiting, the adventurist driver tried to pass by the ‘kacha’ route. As the bad luck would have it, the van engine coughed off right in the middle of the rail track. Within seconds, the speeding train appeared and hit the van, killing all on board including the driver and conductor. District Police Officer (DPO) Sheikhupura said that the coaster driver was responsible for the catastrophe. On its part, the railway ministry suspended the divisional engineer, even if to escape the public backlash. Of course, the train driver could not apply emergency brakes to bring the Shah Hussain express to a grinding halt. This would have meant immediate derailment and an extended trauma at a large scale. The Sikh family from Mohalla Jogan Shah had travelled to Nankana Sahab to deliver condolences. Now back in Peshawar, they were themselves receiving condolences. This is what life is all about. The aggrieved family took mortal remains of train victims to Attock, where the last rites were performed on 4th of July. Adviser to Chief Minister on Information, Ajmal Khan Wazir, visited the affected family. Wearing a mask, he squatted on the floor right in the midst of turban-wearing men who narrated their tale of woes. Ajmal Wazir said that the government would help the family. He did not specify the mode of government help. Nobody from the audience showed curiosity about the nature of the government help. People generally smile away such ministerial pledges as empty rhetoric suited to the occasion. ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������