Thursday April 18, 2024

Landowners protest Chitral govt’s decision

By our correspondents
January 29, 2018

CHITRAL: A large number of landowners held a protest demonstration outside the deputy commissioner (DC) office against the decision of the district administration to declare private land across the district as state property.

The protesters chanted slogans against the district administration and the Mine Department for floating tenders to auction private land located along rivers.

They said due to erosion by floods and rivers, large chunks of private land along rivers had become deserted but the administration was now trying to declare these land as state property under a 1975 notification of the government, which has never been implemented anywhere in Malakand Division. The landowners said they had reservations about the land settlement rules because a survey carried out under it was not authentic and full of flaws.

Under this survey, an attempt had been made to convert private land into state property, they said.

They also produced some verdicts of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Peshawar High Court (PHC) that had been handed down in their favour as regard to ownership of river belts. The courts had also barred the local administration from any interference in the private lands.

The protesters said the agricultural land in Chitral was limited and shrinking as most of it had been washed away or destroyed by floods and rivers. But the land damaged by rivers or floods and still uncultivated cannot be declared state property, they added.

They said any new law should not be experimented in Chitral rather it should be put into force across Swat, Shangla, Lower and Upper Dir as these were also parts of Malakand Division.

“The KP government never imposed such laws in other districts of Malakand Division,” said one of the protesters, adding, the people of Chitral are peaceful but it does not mean that their rights should be snatched from them.

The protesters recalled that during a meeting with the ADC it was decided that the issue would be settled within one week.

The protesters through a unanimous resolution demanded the Chief of Army Staff to intervene in the matter so as to save the peaceful environment of Chitral.

They also demanded the immediate cancellation of the tenders invited for auction of the private lands.

The protesters were led by Shahzada Gul, Shahzada Riaz, Dr Haidarul Mulk, Syed Muzaffar Jan and Qazi Iftikhar Advocate.