( The News Published in Daily TheNews of Jung Group dated November 5, 2010 )
BARA: Over 800 Class-IV employees of the Education Department in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) have been suspended and terminated by the political agents of different tribal agencies under the territorial responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) for not protecting government schools against the militants.
Over 100 female staff members are among the punished government employees. Fazl-e-Manan, Director Education Fata, confirmed to The News the suspension and sacking of the employees and said that they were terminated by the political agents of the respective tribal agencies for failing to protect school buildings against the militant attacks.
While defending the decision, he said all the Class-IV employees including water carriers, gardeners, peons and watchmen were recruited on the recommendations of the relevant political agents and they had the power to terminate them.
Fazl-e-Manan said all the Class-IV workers belonged to the families that had allotted land to the school building as no outsiders could be recruited against such posts in any school in Fata. He admitted that only watchmen were deputed for protection of the schools but action against other Class-IV employees could also be taken under the territorial responsibility clause of the FCR. “Up to 209 government schools and colleges for boys and girls have been blown up by the suspected militants in Fata so far,” he said. However, he did not have the exact number of the suspended and sacked employees.
According to the official figures, out of 209 damaged government educational institutions, 123 were boys’ schools and 79 girls’ schools. Seven colleges for boys were also destroyed in the terror acts. The figures provided by the Directorate of Education in Fata seemed to be outdated as it showed 14 damaged schools in the Khyber Agency whereas the office of the Agency Education Officer confirmed that 22 schools had been blown up by militants. At least 78 Class-IV employees have been suspended and were later terminated in the Khyber Agency, the official sources said.
Similarly, the official figures put the number of damaged schools in Bajaur at 50 and in Mohmand Agency at 29. But according to media reports and independent sources the tally of damaged schools has exceeded 100 in Bajaur and 55 in Mohmand Agency.
“We cannot protect our houses from militants, how can we protect the school buildings?” said Salahuddin, a former watchman of the Government Girls High School in Alam Godar in Bara that was destroyed by the militants some nine months back.
He said a dozen militants kidnapped him from the school at night and released him after having triggered the explosion to destroy the school building. He condemned his termination and that of five other Class-IV employees including two females at the school, saying that it was the responsibility of the security forces to protect government installations in the militancy-affected areas as local people were helpless before the ruthless and well-equipped militants. He said the tribal people had been displaced from their homes by the militancy and military operation. “How they can be made accountable for the protection of government buildings in such a volatile situation?” he asked.
Salahuddin said the militants ended the writ of the civil administration two years back in Bara tehsil, adding, why the poor people were being punished for the job that the government itself had failed to do. “A bomb blast outside our school did not damage the building but the government has stopped our salaries for the last several months,” said Abdul Hafeez, a terminated watchman of the Government Boys School at Lateef Khan Killay in Landikotal.