ISLAMABAD - For the past one week, hundreds of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa employees have blocked all roads leading to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence, starkly reminiscent to last year’s almost four months long sit-in outside the parliament by Khan’s party. Now, Imran Khan is facing the same dilemma as his palatial villa is besieged by angry protesters belonging to the province where his party is currently ruling.

The atmosphere of the current protest is a replica of Imran Khan’s popular protest at D-Chowk where his party would entertain protesters with music, drum beats and festivities in a bid to energise the exhausted activists. Over 2,000 contractual employees in KP’s Workers Welfare Board (WWB), armed with traditional drums, have brought their families including women and children pressing for their demands outside Khan’s residence. Repeated assurances from KP’s ministers have not placated the protesters as they refuse to dismantle the tents and end the agitation. The immediate problem for Imran Khan is that he cannot make entry to his own house by road as the protesters have blocked the main road leading to his abode, thus forcing the PTI’s chief to use a helicopter. On Friday, when the core committee of PTI met at party’s central secretariat to resolve the issue of the protesting employees, Khan could not make it to the venue and instead addressed his party leaders through a video link. On Saturday, Khan left his house for Karachi again using a chopper in order to boost election campaign for his candidate contesting by-polls in NA-246.

According to protesters, Khan has already visited Karachi during the campaign arguing he left his palace only because the drum beats and speeches of protesters had given him sleepless nights. “Ministers in KP give us false assurances. We will not fall prey to their empty promises until we are regularized and our terminated colleagues are reinstated,” Younas Marwat, President WWB Employees Association and leader of the protesters at Bani Gala , told The Nation on Saturday. The protesters intend to stay for months outside Bani Gala as they have collected enough money, food and tents in order to sustain their protest.

The protesting employees had been appointed on contract basis in 2008 and majority of them are contractual teachers at Grammar Folks Schools, a chain of schools in KP under WWB.

 On Saturday, folk singers from southern district of KP like Bannu, Karak and Lakki Marwat added to the strength of the 2,000 protesters in a bid to entertain the participants and energize them similar to the pattern when PTI introduced DJ Butt at its D-Chowk venue for entertaining the protesters. But unlike D-Chowk, where media cannels would cover the anti-government protest round the clock, protesters at Bani Gala complain that media channels have given them a cold shoulder. So far coverage of their agitation has received little attention of electronic media.

“May be, we have pitched our tents away from the main city of Islamabad. Or may be our protest is not of national importance. But at least our children and women should be given credit that have joined our protest for the future of their livelihood,” a protester Maqsood Khan who works as teacher at a school in Bannu told The Nation. Visibly perturbed by the inaction of KP government regarding their demands, the protesters intend to resort to some extreme action. It could involve beating some high-level party leader or barging into the house of Imran Khan.

“I think the rulers will not meet our demand until we resort to extreme action. We know that some 15-20 police officials have been deputed at the main entry gate. We can attack Bani Gala anytime if our patience is tested to the optimum level,” Khan Wazir, 30, another protester said.

Participants of the protest sit-in have broken the main water supply line.

They dance the whole night to the beating of drums. They sing and chant slogans and vent their anger at KP government. “We are people of mountains. We are used to live in hills. Bani Gala is same like our village. We will not get bored here,” Adeel Khan, another protester, said. “Our sit-in will beat the record of PTI’s protest of D-Chowk.”