Photo: GH Farooqui[/caption]
On Monday, over 40 shops built by encroaching on the state land at the PIA Chowk and along the Governor Cottage Road were razed by the district administration.
While the traders were on strike on Tuesday, at about 11am a team of the district administration officials led by AC Abdul Akram came to the bazaar and started marking green on the red line drawn about four feet inside the shops along both sides of the bazaar a few days ago. The district administration had planned to demolish the portions of the shops up to the red line terming them illegally built on the roadside.
When the red was being replaced by the green line, the shopkeepers expressed their satisfaction that perhaps the district administration had withdrawn its move to demolish parts of the shops. They were also talking about calling off the strike. However, some time later, the situation changed when Deputy Commissioner Osama Ahmad Waraich visisted the bazaar and took away AC Akram along with him. Later, the DC again visited the bazaar and rejected the drawn green line, announcing to the chargin of the traders that all the portions of the shops up to the red line would be brought down from Wednesday.
Sources told ChitralToday that the DC had suddenly changed his mind after someone spread a rumour that the district administration had bowed to the pressure of the traders and started marking the green line.
The angry traders sent their union leaders to meet the commandant of Chitral Scouts seeking his intervention to resolve the matter amicably. The sources said the Chitral Scouts commandant told the traders that he would hold a meeting with the deputy commissioner early on Wednesday to find a solution to the issue by 10am.
The traders told ChitralToday that they were ready to voluntarily demolish all the illegal structures but the DC’s insistence that every shop on both sides of the bazaar had encroached on the road by about four feet was illogical and without any proof and would be resisted at all costs. They said if the district administration had any proof that the shops had encroached on the state land, it should make it public. They said in order to resolve the issue, a committee had been constituted by the district administration and the traders, and that on recommendation of the committee the red line was being replaced with the green one. They said some people were misguiding the DC to go ahead with demolishing parts of all the shops in whole bazaar.
They also said even if there was any illegal portion built in a shop, its demolition should be delayed till the end of the winter season because during the cold season reconstruction was not possible. They said two crises one after the other in the summer had badly affected the people of Chitral and with the closure of the Lowari tunnel the Chitral bazaar was short of essential commodities. In these circumstances, such an action against the traders would add another crisis for the whole Chitral, they added.]]>