The Security Forces, after successful negotiations with the local people, have agreed upon vacating the main mosque in Bagh maidan, Tirah valley, a remote area of the Khyber district.
Yesterday, the people of Tirah protested against the use of the mosque and madrassa by the forces, later negotiations were held in which it was decided that the forces would vacate the mosque and madrassa on the 20th day of Eid-ul-Fitr and hand them over to the local people.
Speaking to TNN Khadim Afridi, a local journalist, said that the said mosque was opened in 2019 for Friday prayers and Eid, while even today, Friday prayers are offered in this mosque, but in the protests that took place yesterday, the people’s demand was that the seminary located next to the mosque should also be opened and the access of these people to their land should be ensured.
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Khadim said, since these people do not have financial influence, they requested the local Jirga to discuss the matter with the forces and these discussions continued for about three months, however, after much delay they were forced to protest.
The local people also demanded that it would be better if the forces fixed monthly compensation for their land, but no answer was given by the forces regarding this demand in the Jirga.
It’s worth mentioning that during the operations against terrorism in the Khyber district, Maidan Bagh Mosque, and Madrasa were used by the forces and fenced around as part of security measures to prevent the entry of unwanted people, hence interrupting the prayers. A ban was imposed on the visitors so that no untoward incident would occur due to the crowd.
After the restoration of peace, the tribes of Tirah demanded that now the mosque should be vacated and handed over to the people, while the forces were of the opinion that there is no alternative place with the forces to shift to.
In this regard, the participants of the protest held yesterday said that for the past several years, ordinary people have not been allowed to worship in the mosque and madrassa. They pressed the concerned authorities that the mosque and madrassa should be opened for the common people as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the forces negotiated with the representatives of the protestors and it was agreed that the forces will vacate the madrassa and the mosque after Eid-ul-Fitr and hand them over to the people, while if any plan of action had to be decided during this time, it would be discussed with the selected committee only.
The mosque had been the headquarters of the Tirah-based militant organization Ansarul Islam (AI) and it got damaged in fighting between militants of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and AI in 2012 for the control of the valley.
The TTP defeated AI and took control of the mosque and Maidan area. A couple of months later the Pakistan army launched an offensive against TTP and wiped it out from Maidan and took control of the mosque.