The police constable who killed a school girl in Swat’s Sangota not only emptied his magazine on the coaster van but was reloading his weapon to do more damage, witnesses have told the family.
The nightmarish attack left a six-year-old nursery student Aisha dead and seven others injured, two of whom are still hospitalized. (The girls were discharged by May 22 when Aaj News received an update). A school teacher was also hurt. Aisha’s uncle Hayat Ali told Aaj News that people grabbed Alam Khan as he was trying to reload his gun. “This was actually an attack on the entire van and an attempt to kill all the children,” he said.
The injured include Areesha Abid, 6, Eshaal Abbas, 6, Naheed Wazir Khan, 35, Wajiha Ayub, 16, Roma Zahoor, 11, Horain Wajid, 8, and Maryam Shaukat. They received wounds in the lower limbs, upper torso or the face.
Constable Alam Khan has been arrested and booked under Sections 427, 320, 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code and a joint investigation team is investigating, according to Swat DPO Shafiullah Gandapur.
Alam Khan’s method of attack, to reload his Kalashnikov, and fire at the coaster from the front, side and back negate the police’s initial claim that he opened fire by mistake.
Furthermore, one month ago Sangota Public School had asked for him to be removed because they felt he was not fit for duty. Alam Khan’s hours were morning to midday when school would end.
It also emerged that he was put back on duty despite having been suspended once for not showing up for work. Alam Khan hails from Islampur, and according to a neighbor Aaj News contacted, he had fought with his father and moved out.
Aaj News questioned DPO Shafiullah as to why Alam Khan had been put back on duty after he was suspended and why he was deputed to the school even though they had asked for him to be removed.
DPO Shafiullah Gandapur said in response that the school had not made any written complaints about the constable.
For now, his profile was being investigated. According to what they know so far, Alam Khan joined the Special Forces in 2022 and went to Buner Training School. Alam Khan joined on contract and was regularized later on. He had been posted at Sangota Public School for five months. The school is located in front of the Manglor police station.
There was a time when there was a shortage of policemen as men were generally fearful of joining the force given that the TTP had targeted so many. Given the need for security, recruitment drives perhaps did not discriminate much. Then there is the darker unspoken fear that men joining the force subscribe to the Taliban mindset and given how much blood was shed, revenge may be on their minds. This is, however, a fear that has been expressed given the history of Swat and militancy.
According to Aisha’s uncle Hayat Ali, Constable Alam Khan had been associated with the Taliban, although Aaj News was unable to immediately verify this.
“Either way, in both situations the institution is responsible for such people joining the police,” he said. “People with a suspect background and that too at a school.”
He said that people were not sure if they should even send their children to school because they could not trust the police. “We can’t protect ourselves and there are policemen like him in the ranks, then who should we trust?” he said. “We don’t know what mindset the man in uniform has. We can’t the tell difference between a Talib and a cop.”
A Jirga will make a decision, he added. “Our MNA and the DPO come to offer prayers, but we don’t need their prayers. We’ve got enough people praying for us.”