Residents of Swat’s Charbagh take to the streets against deadly firing on school van

On May 16, a policeman posted outside the Sangota Public School allegedly suddenly opened fire at a school van, killing one and injuring seven.


Students of Swat’s Sangota Public School participate in protests held across the Charbagh tehsil on Wednesday. — Photo by author

May 18, 2023

ISLAMABAD – Scores of people poured into the streets of the Charbagh tehsil in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat on Wednesday to protest against yesterday’s firing at a school van, which killed a student and injured seven others.

On Tuesday, a policeman posted outside the Sangota Public School allegedly suddenly opened fire at a school van. The suspect, identified as Alam Khan, was immediately arrested after the incident and a first information report was registered against him.

According to the Swat Police Public Relations Officer Moin Fayyaz, the suspect was presented before a court today, where he confessed to the crime. The cop was subsequently sent to jail.

However, residents of Charbagh — during a demonstration staged at the Charbagh bazaar and organised by the Matorzee Qami Jirga Charbagh — sought an immediate inquiry against the “black sheep” in the police.

The protesters, while chanting anti-police slogans, condemned the “obnoxious act” of the police personnel and demanded that “extremist elements” within the police should be identified.

Civil society members Naveed Iqbal, Sawb Khan, Hilal Danish, Aftab Ahmad, Adalat Khan, Javed Ali and Advocate Haider Ali were among the prominent speakers during the protest.

The protesters said that the incident of firing a school van by a police cop was shocking news. “We can’t believe that the security personnel, on duty to protect the school children, opened firing on them,” said Naveed, one of the protesters.

“The higher authorities must clean the police force from negative elements by conducting a thorough survey so that no such incident occurs in the future,” said Hilal, another protester.

The residents further warned that if police officials did not take notice of their demands, district-wide protests would be held.

Swat District Bar Association also condemned the tragic incident and demanded the transfer of the district police officer. The lawyers approved the formation of an action committee to closely monitor peace-related issues in Swat.

Mental fitness assessment of police officers ordered
On the other hand, Regional Police Officer Nasir Mahmood Satti, issued a letter to all the district police officers in the Malakand division, directing them to immediately conduct a thorough mental fitness assessment of all the police officials.

“Those who were found behaving incongruously or having personality issues, acutely depressed or biased to gender or creed must be pointed out, referred to medical boards and their services must be terminated as they pose serious potential threats to public safety,” the notice stated.

It added such officers must not be appointed on important duties till they are declared fit by medical boards.

The notice further stated that in case of non-compliance and if any such incident took place again, departmental action would be taken against respective SDPOs, SHOs, DSP HQs, RI, Line officers, and Muharars.

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