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April 19, 2021

Forced stoppage of mining poses threat to law and order in Bajaur

Peshawar

April 19, 2021

PESHAWAR: The stubbornness of a local tribesman to challenge the writ of the government and stop mining by force in Aseel Targhao area of the Barang Tehsil of Bajaur tribal district is a serious threat to peace as the district administration and police have failed to bring the situation under control.

The tribesman, Niaz Mohammad Said, has openly challenged the writ of the state and has taken the risk of antagonizing fellow tribesmen by forcibly stopping work on a legally leased out chromite mine in the area.

He has set up bunkers on the hilltop and allegedly opens fire on whoever tries to approach the mines located in the remote area of Bajaur. He has exchanged fire with the police and local tribesmen a number of times. Two first information reports have been registered against him but no arrest could be made so far which emboldened him further.

The lease for the mine was secured by one Zafarullah Khan Kakar and Company after following proper procedure in 2016. As per procedure, the agreement was made with the tribe concerned, another agreement was made with the owners of the land and then the mining lease was acquired. The local tribesmen fully supported the leaseholder as he would bring some development to the area besides paying royalty to them.

By the time the mining work started, some local people started creating problems forcing the leaseholder of the mine to hold a jirga in line with the tribal traditions to resolve the issue. Subsequently, the main group - Saidani family - which was allegedly creating problems withdrew its claim and allowed the lease owners to start excavation and supply of the stones.

Another person, Niaz Mohammad Said, who had nothing to do with the mine by any means, stood up and stopped the mineworkers from excavation. The entire tribe opposed his move and asked him to withdraw his claim, but he was not ready to listen to anyone.

The tribesmen were of the opinion that he was harming the collective benefits of the people living in the hitherto much neglected and underdeveloped area.

The accused has blatantly challenged the writ of the government. Firing took place on a number of occasions and bloodshed is feared. Some locals told The News that Niaz Mohammad Said allegedly used heavy weapons against the tribesmen and government officials, especially policemen several times during the dispute. They alleged that he was hurling threats at local police officials but no action could be taken against him.

The tribesmen said the people living in the area were heavily armed and any untoward incident could result in human losses. They sought immediate intervention on part of the authorities concerned to avert bloodshed.

The lease owners and local tribal people demanded of the governor, chief minister, the Peshawar High Court chief justice, inspector general police and corps commander Peshawar to look into the matter and take steps to avoid bloodshed and provide justice to them.