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April 10, 2021

Remains of 16 kidnapped coalminers found

Top Story

April 10, 2021

By Bureau report

PESHAWAR: The authorities on Friday recovered bodies of the 16 coalminers who were kidnapped in 2011 from the mountains of Aka Khel area in Darra Adam Khel town of Kohat district and transported them to their native villages in Shangla district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The people of Shangla and the Shangla Coalminers Association had appealed to the government to help transport the bodies to their native areas.

According to Provincial Labour Minister Shaukat Yousufzai, these poor coalminers were kidnapped by unknown people from their workplace in Aka Khel area of Darra Adam Khel in 2011.

There were, however, reports that 32 coalminers were kidnapped by unknown people, believed to be local militants, in 2011 but some of them managed to escape from their custody in small groups and reached their homes.

Sources in Shangla claimed that those who safely reached their homes had paid ransom to the kidnappers.

The government had forgotten these poor coalminers and made no serious effort for their safe release. Darra Adam Khel, known for gun-manufacturing in Kohat district, was in Taliban control when the coalminers were kidnapped.

No militant group had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.

Shaukat Yousafzai told The News that family members of the missing coalminers had been making efforts at their level but could not recover them safely.

He said relatives of the missing coal miners used to receive phone calls from unknown people demanding ransom for their release.

“Since all the coalminers belonged to very poor families, they could not pay ransom for their release,” he said. According to Shaukat Yousafzai, the relatives of the missing coalminers recently learnt that all the 16 miners had been killed and buried somewhere in the mountains. “They approached me and wanted the government to facilitate them in searching the bodies. We arranged security and helped them locate the mass grave where all the 16 coalminers were buried. They had to walk through the rugged mountain to reach the area where the poor labourers were buried,” Shaukat Yousafzai explained. He said after recovering the bodies, they were shifted to ambulances, which he had arranged from the Rescue 1122 department. PTI politicians from Shangla, Waqar Ahmad Khan and Sadeedur Rahman accompanied the ambulance sent to Aka Khel to bring the bodies home.

The bodies were transported to native villages of the miners in Shangla, where they would be laid to rest on Saturday. Besides the relatives, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), working for rights of coalminers, had also played a role in tracing the bodies. “Right now it is not clear when exactly these poor people were killed and buried. Their bodies are beyond recognition but relatives recognised their near and dear ones from their personal belongings such as wrist watches, shoes and waistcoats,” Shaukat Yousafzai said. Shaukat Yousafzai also belongs to Shangla district. Majority of the coalminers working in difficult circumstances in the country hail from Shangla. Others are from Swat and Dir.

Meanwhile, the KP government on Friday announced Rs1 million compensation for each family of the coalminers whose bodies were found 10 years after they were kidnapped by militants. Shaukat Ali Yousafzai in a video message expressed sympathies with the bereaved families of the slain coalminers.

He said the tribulations and worries of the families of these 16 coalminers for the last 10 years after their loved ones were kidnapped and remained untraced could not be ignored.

He said the KP government equally shared the grief. The minister said the Rs1 million cash compensation could no way make up for the great human losses but it was offered to provide some solace to the families of the victims.