Tension grips Madaklasht over water dispute

Tension grips Madaklasht over land dispute

Zulfiqar Ahmad
ISLAMABAD: In a bizarre incident of its kind in Chitral’s Madaklasht valley, dozens of people were taken hostage and kidnapped by groups of local people and settlers over a dispute pertaining to a land dispute and utilization of a stream for irrigation purposes.

Talking to ChitralToday, Sher Ajab Khan, a retired scholar of the Ismaili Tariqa and Religious Education Board (ITREB) for Pakistan, said Zaram Khan from Balpanj village, a Pashtun settler, stopped the local community from bringing water from a nearby stream of Shalaodoq for irrigating their lands.
He said when the young men from the local community tried to bring water from the stream, Zaram Khan along with his men allegedly opened fire on them. As a result, four people from the  community were injured.

However, with the help of other villagers, the locals managed to overpower Zaram Khan and three of his accomplices  armed with a Kalashnikov, a shotgun and another automatic weapon.
When this report was filed on Wednesday evening, the three men along with Zaram Khan were in the custody of the local community and the police had not reached the area.

When contacted, SHO Drosh Abdul Waheed Khan told ChitralToday that a team of police led by subdivisional police officer (SDPO) Drosh Ajmal Khan was on their way to the area.
When the news of the incident reached the village of Zarram Khan, who is a resident of Balpanj, his men stopped four taxi vehicles carrying men, women, children and elderly people belonging to Madaklash going back to their homes from Drosh and kidnapped them away to their area.
The locals said the men of Zaram Khan were  making threatening phone calls to the local villagers to immediately release him and the three other persons.

The locals claimed that their people could be heard screaming and weeping on telephone as they were being beaten by the people of Zaram Khan in a bid to build pressure on the villagers to release him and men.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Lower Chitral Hassan Abid said the issue was in his notice and he had sent a police team led by SDPO Drosh to tackle the situation and maintain peace.
“It takes some 45 kilometres from Drsoh to Madaklasht and no one will be allowed to take  law into their hands. We will take strict action whoever is found involved in this incident,” he added.

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