AYUN: Local people have accused police personnel deployed at the entrance to Kalash valleys of highhandedness and inconveniencing them by not allowing them entry on the pretext of a ban.
Talking to ChitralToday correspondent, a number of people complained that the police at Dubash check post stopped travellers to the Kalash valleys and on discriminatory basis sent back many of them.
Sometimes the police ask passengers to disembark from public transport vehicles and go back, or force private vehicles along with the passengers to go back, they alleged.
On the other hand, despite a ban on entry of tourists from outside Chitral in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many people from the down country managed to reach the Kalash valleys and attended the Joshi festival there.
But the police did not allow many locals to enter the Kalash valleys saying the Joshi festival was underway there and no one from other parts of Chitral was allowed to go there to attend the festival.
Joshi is an annual festival of the Kalash tribe which is celebrated 10 days after the spring festival of Chilim Jusht.
Muhammad Nawaz, 75, a resident of Orghoch, told ChitralToday that he set out from his home to meet his elder sister in the Kalash valley.
After waiting for a public transport vehicle, when he reached the Dubash check post in a van, he along with another traveller was asked by the police to disembark, saying the Joshi festival was underway and except the locals of Kalash valleys no one was allowed entry there.
He said he pleaded to the police jawan that he was going to see his elderly sister and had nothing to do with the festival and neither his age allowed him to attend any festival.
But instead of listening to his plea, the police let the vehicle to go ahead leaving the elderly man on the road. As he remained stranded midway and there was no other means of transport available to return, the police asked him to go on foot towards the house of his sister.
As a result of the highhandedness of the police, the senior citizen had to walk to the village of his sister located at a distance of six kilometres from the check post.
He said while the government was claiming to give respect and provide facilities to senior citizens the police were working just against it and bringing a bad name to the government.
A young man, who identified himself as Junaid, added that on the one hand local people were not being allowed to visit their relatives in different parts of Kalash valleys and on the other tourists from different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other provinces not only reached Chitral but also attended the Joshi festival even though there was a ban on the entry of outsiders in Chitral.
The locals criticized the double standard of the district administration and asked it to review it. They said forcing passengers to return from the Dubash check post was not only causing mental distress to the people but also putting an extra burden on them in terms of paying extra fares to taxi drivers who were still fleecing commuters even after reduction in prices of petroleum.
When ChitralToday correspondent contacted Saeedur Rehman, the incharge of the police check post at Dubash, he said the government had banned entry of people from Ayun and nearby areas in the Kalsh valleys because the Joshi festival was underway there.
He said the police were allowing only those having a no-objection certificate (NOC) to enter the area.–Muhkam Uddin Ayuni