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January 11, 2019

Displaced Bajaur families have no abode to live


January 11, 2019

PESHAWAR: Displaced from their hometowns in the erstwhile Bajaur Agency in 2008, Khan Akbar and his dozens clan-fellows have not yet returned to their homes.

They have opted to live in the deserted Jalozai camp in Nowshera district as they say that their houses have been demolished and occupied by local landlords.

Living in a tattered tent at Jalozai, Khan Akbar said that he and his other clan-fellows were the tenants of local Khans (landlords) in Kotki village in Charmang tehsil of the then Bajaur Agency (now Bajaur tribal district). They recalled that like other tribespeople, they had left their homes in haste as a result of military operation in 2008.

“Jalozai is no more a safe and secure place for us as the police are now compelling us to leave the area as it is no more an official camp for the displaced persons,” he told this scribe. He added that the locals also want to evacuate them from their make-shift homes in Jalozai.

Jalozai, once an abode of thousands of Afghan refugees, was declared the official camp for thousands of temporarily displaced persons from Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber regions when clashes started between security forces and the militants and led to the subsequent military operations in 2008.

When peace and normalcy returned to their villages, majority of the displaced people went back to their homes and the camp lost its official status. All the donors and charity organisations also stopped their activities for the care of the homeless people.

Sixty-year old Khan Akbar said that there was no electricity or drinking water at the deserted Jalozai camp. “We have no other option but to live in the tented homes along with our children,” he added.

He said that like other displaced people, they did not get compensation or other relief items for their damaged homes in Kotki, Charmang. He alleged that the local landlords had claimed compensation for the houses they had built on their land.

“We had built the homes where we were living for years but during the survey, the landlords claimed the compensation for the damages and also deprived us of other relief items,” Khan Akbar maintained

Haji Munasib, another displaced person from Kotki, said their children were fetching drinking water from far-flung areas as they had no electricity, drinking water pumps or wells in the nearby locality. He said that former Governor Shaukatullah and his father had promised to facilitate and compensate them for their losses before the 2013 general election, but they did not fulfil their pledges.

He said that some 300 families from Kotki were living as homeless people in Jalozai, Risalpur and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and none had received compensation for their damaged houses.

When contacted over the phone, Guldad Khan, Member National Assembly (MNA) from Bajuar, said he was aware of the problems of the homeless people from his constituency NA-44 Bajaur. “I will table a resolution in the National Assembly in this regard,” he said, adding, “I will also raise this issue with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.”

He added that he would also talk to the local landlords in Kotki to settle their dispute with these homeless people.

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