By Sadia Qasim Shah
PESHAWAR, Jan 22: Protesting the incident of their manhandling and snatching of the vehicle they were travelling in by armed persons, women teachers of 16 government schools in Bara Qadeem refused to perform their duties.
At least 27 teachers belonging to Peshawar staged a protest demonstration here on Thursday against the incident of manhandling and snatching of their vehicle on Jan 19. The teachers refused to go to schools after the incident saying that they felt insecure.
All the teachers performing duties in the primary schools of Spin Qambar area in various localities like Shaindi Gul Kalay, Hasan Kalay, Jumma Khan Kalay, Aqal Jan Kalay, Ayub Kalay, Sheikhabad, Qamar Gul Kalay, Ayub Kalay No 2, Gula Khan Kalay, Noor Afzal Kalay, Qazi Ali Hussain Kalay, Daulat Khan Kalay, Suhbat Shah Kalay, Amin Shah Kalay and a high school in Karigar Ghari Kalay belong to Peshawar.
They travel from Peshawar to the tribal area every day to perform their duties.
The protesting teachers condemned the lawlessness and demanded of the authorities to provide them security and recover the vehicle, which belonged to the husband of one of their colleagues.
“This incident has scared the women teachers and now they are reluctant to go to schools. The schools have been closed for the last four days,” said a teacher, who has been teaching there for about 18 years.
Another teacher said that schools were closed but they would not go there until provided with proper security. She has been teaching at a school having enrollment of 60 students.
Narrating their ordeal, the teachers said that four armed masked men stopped their van near Bajri Stop. “One of them broke the windscreen of the vehicle which injured a teacher’s forehead,” they said, adding that they were shocked and didn’t know what to do. “The armed men pulled us forcefully and started abusing us,” they added.
They said that the men also snatched the wallet, driving licence and cellular phone of the driver and took the van towards tribal area. Twenty teachers travelling in the van were left on roadside.
“Then Lashkar-i-Islam members came there and asked us about the details of the attackers. They hired a taxi for us and sent us home. We saw no security personnel on the way,” a teacher told this scribe on condition of anonymity. Sixteen schools in the area have been closed for the last four days as teachers refused to go there till the recovery of the vehicle and proper security arrangement. “Women are not safe in daytime. We are sacred,” said a teacher. Another teacher said that they could not go there by bus as some schools were situated in far-flung areas.
Since the dreadful incident the teachers have been trying to draw the attention of the authorities to provide them security but little has been done in this regard.
“The tehsildar refused to take notice of the incident saying the areas doesn’t come under his jurisdiction. Police are not registering FIR and citing the same reason,’ said Mohammad Rafique, the driver of the snatched vehicle.
He added that no one had taken any action so far.
He said that he had bought the van about eight months ago at Rs800,000 on installments. He has not yet paid all the installments.
The teachers demanded of Fata Education Directorate and political administration to provide them security.
After their protest in front of Peshawar Press Club the teachers wanted to meet the political administrator in his office but they couldn’t succeed. Instead his subordinates met the teachers and told them that they could stay back and should not attend the school till the issue was resolved.
However, Fata education director told Dawn by phone that schools would remain open but he could do nothing except to write to the authorities to look into the security issue.
“I have written a note to the political administration to protect the teachers and recover the vehicle. That is all I can do,” he said.