September 29th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
Following the killings of nine people during a jirga in Upper Dir recently, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police have been instructed not to allow privately-held jirgas in their jurisdictions, police sources told Voicepk.net.
However, police will continue to facilitate and provide security to jirgas held under the mechanism of the dispute resolution councils and alternate dispute resolution councils in the districts.
On September 20, rival groups opened fire during a gathering of elders in Upper Dir’s Bandagai Barawal area to settle a land dispute. Taking notice of the incident, Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari called for activation of the police dispute resolution councils to end property disputes, adding that jirgas under the councils should be provided with foolproof security.
Police have arrested 8 suspects out of 11 suspects nominated in the case, Upper Dir SHO Lal Bahadur Khan told Voicepk.net. He said the Jirga participants had not intimated police about the gathering.
Following the killings, police has been instructed not to allow any privately-held local jirgas in the district. “People wishing to hold jirga to settle a dispute between them will have to approach the dispute resolution council of the police or alternate dispute resolution council under the deputy commissioner’s office,” SHO Lal Bahadur Khan said.
According to police sources, jirga gatherings under the councils are to be held in a peaceful and secure atmosphere. Participants of the jirgas will be barred from bringing weapons to the gathering which would be held in police stations or district offices, the sources said, adding that no jirgas will be held in open spaces.
Zeeshan Asghar, provincial police spokesperson did not respond to messages and calls to confirm police directives against privately-held jirgas in the province. Kamran Bangash, provincial government spokesperson, also did not respond to questions about measures taken by the government to stop privately-held jirgas to settle land disputes in districts across the province.
There have been several clashes over land disputes in the province this year. On August 26, eight people were killed in a land dispute near Parachinar in the Kurram tribal district. On July 10, seven people were killed when two clans clashed over a land dispute in Swat.
Civil society activists and opposition lawmakers have demanded the government to take notice of killings over land disputes.
Delay in land records computerization cause of land disputes: Orakzai
Nighat Orakzai, a member of the provincial assembly from the Pakistan Peoples Party, said the disputes were a result of the delay in the computerization of land records in the province. The present government has spent millions of rupees on the computerization of land records in the last five years but has not completed the digitization process in the province, Orakzai said.
According to the land revenue department, the digitization process of land records of 58 tehsils of different districts would be completed by June 2022. However, the government has yet to launch a project for the digitization of land records in the merged districts.
Referring to the Upper Dir incident, she said people had no option other than holding jirgas themselves to resolve their land disputes as the provincial government had failed to redress their grievances. “The alternate dispute resolution councils and dispute resolutions councils are mostly non-functional in the merged districts,” she pointed out.
The residents of the merged districts are demanding restoration of the Frontier Crimes Regulation in the region because of the failure of the government to provide the basic civic services and infrastructure as promised to them,” she added.