Chaman protesters destroy DC office after camps demolished

After local authorities dismantled protest camps and reopened the Quetta-Chaman Highway early Wednesday, participants of the sit-in ransacked the deputy commissioner’s office, leading to seven arrests.

Although the highway was initially reopened for traffic following the operation, it was soon blocked again, halting all trade and traffic between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the border crossing.

Officials reported that the local administration, Frontier Corps, and Levies officials conducted an operation to clear all boulders and barriers from the road. Some reports indicated that the protest camps were set ablaze. After the road was cleared, hundreds of trucks and vehicles carrying Afghan transit, import, and export goods, previously stranded in Shela Bagh, were able to pass through.

However, once security personnel left the scene, the protesters re-blocked the highway and threw stones at trucks and Levies officials in the Garang area, on the outskirts of Chaman.

To disperse the crowd, police and Levies officials used tear gas. Despite this, tensions escalated, and a large crowd gathered in front of the DC office in Chaman on Wednesday to protest the operation in Garang.

During the demonstration, some protesters entered the DC office, damaging furniture, computers, and other equipment. The Levies force at the office eventually dispersed the crowd and arrested seven protesters.

Local journalists reported that some protesters also threw stones at the Chaman Press Club building, located within the DC complex, breaking its windows.

DC Athar Abbas Raja confirmed that protesters were present outside his office in the late evening and that a dialogue was underway to resolve the situation. He confirmed the arrest of seven individuals involved in the attack on his office. Protesters claimed that the sit-in committee spokesmen, Sadiq Achakzai and Ghousullah, were also detained.

In a statement, the district administration mentioned that during an anti-polio campaign, some miscreants attacked the polio team, injuring two Levies personnel and assaulting female polio workers. The deputy commissioner held negotiations with the sit-in committee leader to maintain law and order in Chaman.

However, during these negotiations, some protesters attacked Deputy Commissioner Athar Abbas Raja and ransacked his office, according to the statement.

“The protesters have crossed the red line, and FIRs will be registered against them on terror charges,” the statement said.

Shahid Rind, a spokesman for the Balochistan government, stated that protesters had repeatedly challenged state authority over the past several months. “Provoking people to revolt against the state in the name of the sit-in is no longer acceptable,” he warned, indicating that action would be taken against such elements.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Mir Zia Ullah Langove emphasized that peace would be restored by taking action against troublemakers. He also mentioned compensation was being provided to those affected by the border trade and highlighted that the ‘one document regime’ is a constitutional requirement.

A spokesperson for the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party condemned both the crackdown on the sit-in and the subsequent arrests. In a statement issued on Wednesday, he demanded the release of the detained protesters.

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