Land compensation: Clash between two Chilas tribes leaves 13 injured

Section 144 imposed; rioters booked but no arrests made so far

Shabbir Mir December 13, 2016

GILGIT: At least 13 people were injured on Monday when two tribes in Chilas, Diamer region of Gilgit-Baltistan, clashed on Monday.

Subsequently, the local administration on Tuesday imposed Section 144 in the area while heavy contingents of security forces were deployed to maintain peace in the volatile town.

On Monday, the local Soniwal tribe had held a protest outside the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) colony.

They were demanding their share of compensation for the lands which the government had acquired to build the 4,500 megawatts Diamer-Bhasha dam in the area.

According to members of the Soniwal tribe, the government had treated them unfairly out of pressure from the dominant tribe of the region– Boto tribe.

“We are ready to sacrifice our lives for our rights, and compensation for our lands is something which we are entitled to,” said a demonstrator.

As the protest rally was in progress, members of the Boto tribe gathered. After exchanging hot words, a clash erupted between the two tribes.

Men from both tribes first pelted each other with stones causing injuries to people on both sides. The situation escalated quickly and some tribesmen started firing at each other. The clash left at least 13 people injured, including five policemen.

Alarmed at the tense situation, a government-backed jirga comprising prominent locals rushed to the scene with white flags in hands.

The two warring tribesmen, looking at the gesture of truce, stopped firing immediately.

Subsequently on Tuesday, the local administration imposed strict security measures.

“Section 144 has been imposed in the town to control the situation,” saod Muhammad Alam, a spokesperson for police in Chilas, the biggest town in Diamer district – where the dam is under construction.

On Tuesday, the local administration deployed heavy contingents of police and Gilgit scouts in the market and around the government buildings to pre-empt any untoward incidents.

“The situation is normal and cases have been registered against those involved in the violence,” Alam told The Express Tribune, adding they had reports of 13 people suffering injuries from the firing and stoning.

By imposing Section 144, Alam said gatherings and rallies were banned in the area.

Despite the fact that cases had been registered against the culprits, police have yet to apprehend them.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2016.


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