Peshawar: Police arrest 41 Afghan refugees in fresh crackdown
PESHAWAR: In a crackdown on the Afghan nationals residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without legal documents, the capital city police arrested 41 persons from Tehkal and Dir Colony Chowk on Tuesday.
The arrests sparked protests by students of madrassas and the police had to baton-charge and use teargas to break the protests. The sources said 39 among the detained Afghans were students of a seminary, Jamia Zuberia in the Dir Colony. They were arrested during a police raid on the religious school. Two prayer leaders were arrested from different mosques in the suburban Tehkal village.
The police, however, denied raiding any religious schools. The police officials said the 39 Afghan nationals were arrested from the Dir Colony Chowk for not having the required documents. Cases were registered against them under the 14 Foreigners Act after which they were sent to the Central Prison Peshawar.
A source said the Agha Mir Jani Shah Police along with heavy contingents from other police stations raided the Jamia Zuberia in Dir Colony Chowk and arrested over 70 students. The source said a number of detained persons were later released after they showed their Pakistani identity cards or documents provided by the UNHCR to the Afghan refugees.
However, 39 students were booked under the 14 Foreigners Act for living in Peshawar without possessing legal documents. Also, two Afghan peshimams of mosques were separately booked in the Tehkal Police Station after they were arrested from different areas.
A large number of Afghan students are enrolled in different religious schools all over Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). Many of them are without required documents.
Protestors took to the street to show anger over the raids on the seminaries. Led by local cleric Maulana Ismail Darwesh, a large number of seminary students and members of the Tanzeem Ahle Sunnat Wal-Jamaat protested outside the Agha Mir Jani Shah Police Station against the arrest of the seminary students. They demanded release of the students and action against the cops involved. They also blocked the main Kohati-Ganj Road for traffic while chanting anti-police slogans.
The police had to fire teargas shells and baton charge the protesters when the students refused to open the road. Several students were reported injured in the police action. They were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital. The police also arrested some of the protesters who were released after negotiations between the leaders of the Ahle Sunnat Wal-Jamaat and senior police officials.
A source said the police and intelligence agencies had been directed by the provincial government to collect data on all the illegal Afghan refugees, especially students of seminaries and prayer leaders in their respective areas.