BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
GILGIT: The people in Thore valley of Diamer district in Gilgit-Baltistan on Thursday forcibly stopped construction work near Diamer-Bhasha Dam to protest ‘encroachment by the people from Kohistan district on their land.’
The move came days after people in Harban area in Kohistan stopped work on the realignment of Karakoram Highway [KKH] at Shatial area.
“The work on WAPDA colony and KKH has now been stopped by people of Thore valley,” an official said on Thursday.
“This move has come in reaction to a similar act done by the Harban people earlier this week.”
The nearly 10-kilometre stretch of land on both sides of Basari check post is among the areas being demarcated for acquisition for the Diamer-Bhasha Dam project.
According to the official, the district administration on both sides of the territory kept on meet the enraged people at their end to convince them to avoid creating problems. “However that didn’t work as deputy commissioners don’t have powers to settle the dispute,” said the official.
The issue flared up once again after a local Jirga brokered a truce between the tribes who last year fought for the land and subsequently lost seven people from both sides.
Usman Ahmad, who is deputy commissioner at Diamer confirmed the work was stopped by the Thore valley people. “This has happened and we have communicated it to the higher authorities,” he said.
The disputed land, which separates Kohistan from the region, has been a bone of contention between Thor Valley, Diamer and Harban Nala, Kohistan. The status of the land remains uncertain and has been the cause of considerable unrest in Diamer and Kohistan as it involves compensation and royalty in the long run.
In January 2014, the federal government stepped in to resolve the issue. The matter was referred to a boundary commission, constituted by the Supreme Court, for a permanent settlement. Rangers were stationed on the disputed territory to defuse tension till a decision was reached. A jirga brokered a 40-day ceasefire between warring tribes in Kohistan and G-B. It convinced the warring tribespeople to bid farewell to arms and leave the boundary dispute for the government to resolve.
However, in February 2014, residents took to the streets and blocked KKH after residents of Kohistan forcibly took away over 400 goats from a resident of Diamer. The goats had been grazing on a swath of land to which both regions lay claim.
Widespread protests triggered by the incident added fuel to the fire. The dispute took a violent turn when clashes erupted between both sides, leaving seven people dead and over a dozen others wounded.
On March 13, 2014, the G-B Assembly unanimously passed a resolution against K-P for encroaching on land set aside for proposed dam site. The house called for the immediate settlement of the boundary dispute with K-P through a boundary commission.