A grand jirga of three Chattarplain-based tribes has decided to evict Kohistani tenants from their homes and land, and given them a 60-day notice to leave the area.
The jirga also warned that it would impose a Rs500,000 fine on locals found violating the decision.
Over 500 families of Kohistani origin have been tilling the land of Swatis, Gujjar and Syed tribes in the Chattarplain area near Battagram for over three decades. Some have even purchased land and are doing business in the area. However, their relations have strained recently over some minor disputes.
The Syed, Gujjar and Swati tribes are three key stakeholders in the area because they own a major chunk of the land there. Sources said that last week, youngsters from the Swati tribe had a brawl with Kohistanis during a cricket match, which led to an exchange of fire. The gunshots left four people injured on each side. An injured Kohistani succumbed to his injuries at the Ayub Medical Complex in Abbottabad on Sunday.
Following the clash, elders of the Syed, Gujjar and Swati tribes held a grand jirga at the residence of Liaqat Khan at Chattarplain on Saturday evening to take stock of the situation.
They accused the Kohistanis of being involved in theft, kidnapping, robberies and various other criminal activities, adding that despite repeated warnings they had failed to mend their ways.
According to Liaquat Khan, the jirga head, the Kohistanis were asked to earn their living in a peaceful manner but they began conspiracies against the settled tribes who hosted them and offered their lands for tilling.
“Last month they (Kohistanis) held a jirga and formed a committee of their youth to deal with how they are treated by the local tribes,” said Khan, adding that they are thankless and fighting with the hosts who provided them a livelihood and a home.
He said that the jirga has unanimously decided to evict all the Kohistani tenants living in rented houses or on the land of local tribes. Besides, Kohistanis who have purchased land will not be allowed to use the land reserved by local tribes for the burial of their dead.
When approached for comments, the cell number of Chattarplain based Kohistani Malik Amez was switched off.
A police officer from the Battal police, requesting anonymity, said that since renting a house or agricultural land is purely the prerogative of the owner, the police has no role to play in offering protection to Kohistani tenants.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.