SHABQADAR: Tribal elders in Mohmand Agency have demanded “compensation” for land destroyed in an anti-poppy cultivation drive on Friday, which injured two men including a member of the paramilitary Khasadar Force.
“We held a jirga with tribal elders after the incident. The elders agreed to destroy poppy fields but demanded compensation in the form of development funds for the area,” said Shakirullah, an official of the political administration in Ambar sub-district, where the drive was conducted.
He said that the political administration, with help from the Khasadar Force, had cleared almost three acres of land when some young tribal men opened fire in the Shati Mena locality. The injured troop was identified as Mohammad Shah and the civilian as Faisal.
Backing their demand for compensation, tribal elders say the area is not conducive to grow other crops.
“The political administration officials were destroying our valuable crops without any compensation. What else can we grow in these areas to earn a livelihood?” asked an elder from Shanti Mena on condition of anonymity. “We will continue resisting destruction of our crops until the government compensates us,” he told The Express Tribune.
However, they handed over eight people, who were suspected of firing at the anti-poppy cultivation team, under the collective responsibility clause of the Frontier Crimes Regulation that govern the area.
But another senior official from the agency’s political administration claimed that they had compensated all affected families with wheat seeds and fertilisers. He said they had also obtained a certificate for eradicating poppy cultivation from Mohmand Agency.
He added that a local jirga will soon be convened to decide the date of removing poppy cultivation in the upper Prangghar area of Mohmand Agency.
However, local sources in Ambar sub-district and the Prangghar area say that most farmers who own small-sized land grow poppy only because it serves as a more lucrative product. A smaller quantity of poppy fetches more money than a much greater quantity of any other crop, they said.