ATC issues arrest warrants for 216 warring villagers in Gilgit

GILGIT: An anti-terrorism court has issued arrest warrants against 216 people who were involved in an armed conflict over a land dispute in Gilgit district.

The warrants were issued by ATC judge Raja Shehbaz Khan. Earlier, in January, a large number of people were injured after the residents of three villages — Haramosh, Chamugarh and Jalalabad — exchanged fire and pelted each other with stones. The dispute arose over a piece of land called Maqpoon Das in Gilgit. Residents of all three villages have staked a claim to the land.

Following the clashes, the district administration sealed the territory and deployed a heavy contingent of police and Gilgit Scouts to avert any untoward situation.

The government booked several people under the anti-terrorism act for posing a threat to law and order.

Amid tensions

Although further violence was avoided, the situation remained tense as the parties refused to surrender their respective claims.

“The situation is extremely dangerous given the harsh stand taken by the villagers,” Inayat Ali, a resident of Haramosh told The Express Tribune on Sunday. “All parties have staked a claim over the land and say that it belongs to their ancestors.”

Various political and religious figures intervened to alleviate tensions. However, all attempts to negotiate between the villagers failed.

Muhammad Shafi, a member of the G-B Assembly, was among the key figures who sought to defuse tensions and pave the way for a settlement. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he hoped the dispute would be settled through negotiations.

“We have held several rounds of consultations to settle the issue,” Shafi said. “I am quite hopeful we will succeed in our efforts.” He said the issue was volatile and could escalate if it is not controlled in a timely manner.