Former ruler's re-burial touches off angry protest in Gardez
GARDEZ (Pajhwok): The reburial of Habibullah Kalakani, known as Afghanistan’s bandit king, triggered a protest in southeaster Paktia province on Friday.
Kalakani was reburied in Kabul hours after an attack on the people carrying his coffin. At least four people were injured and one security official killed.
Kalakani served as king for a few months in 1929. He led the revolt against King Amanullah’s modernisation plans with the help of various tribes.
A number of political figures, including former Balkh governor Atta Mohammad Noor, ex-intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh and others, held a ceremony for the reburial of Kalakani and 16 of his aides.
The remains were reburied on Shahr-i-Ara Mount in Kabul after armed supporters of 1st Vice-President Gen. Abdur Rashid Dostum prevented the ceremony.
After Juma prayers, demonstrators asked the government not to stay silent on the issue. They warned the state funeral for Kalakani amounted to fuelling tensions among ethnic communities.
The protestors, branding the ex-ruler as a stigma on Afghanistan’s history, said they would never recongnise him as a hero. They slammed the state funeral as a deliberate bid to fuel ethnic discord.
Provincial council member Mohammad Rahman Qaderi said: “We want to ask the central government why it is silent. It must spell out a clear stance to avert ethnic tensions.”
Khaista Khan Ahadi, a noted tribal elder, warned: “Bigger demonstrations will be staged if the remains of Kalakani and his associates are not removed from the site in Kabul.”
The protestors, denouncing the former ruler as an anti-state figure, also torched Kalakani’s portrait and shouted slogans against him.
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