Charsadda ‘frees’ land from tenants

TANGI: Having received multiple notices for contempt of court, the Charsadda District Administration together with a large contingent of police evicted tenants from an area in Tangi on Thursday.

The tenants, though, did not go quietly and put up stiff resistance. The subsequent clashes left at least four tenants and two policemen injured.

During the tenure of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when land reforms were introduced, thousands of acres of land were ‘occupied’ by farm workers who then cultivated the land. The landowners though had challenged that in the courts. After the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government passed a new tenancy law the landowners looked to the courts again.

Following court orders, the Charsadda district administration on Thursday launched an operation against tenants occupying around 285 kanals of land in Hindu Kali and Onadaro Kali area of Tangi.

Charsadda Deputy Commissioner Muntazir Khan, along with District Police Officer Zahoor Babar Afridi, told a news conference that they had launched the operation after the district administration received four contempt of court orders from the courts.

Muntazir said that as many as 1,100 police officers, including 40 lady police official, and contingents from law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area on Thursday morning.

However, the tenants put up stiff resistance to the police officers.

Attempts by police to break the will of the tenants by taking into custody their leaders only served to stoke the fire. After hearing about the operation women and children living in the Ijara Kali area came onto the roads armed with wooden sticks while raising slogan against the police.

Some women even raised the Holy Quran as they cursing the landowners and the police taking over the land.

“We have been cultivating the lands from the time of our forefathers when it was barren. Now that we have irrigated it, the landowners want to take it back by force which is not acceptable,” the protesting women told the media. They added that even though their leaders had been arrested, they will not cede control of it and will fight till the end.

They claimed that at least four tenants, including a woman, had been injured in clashes with the police. Muntazir, meanwhile, said that at least two cops had also been injured in the clash and had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Separately, Land Owner Association President Akbar Nawaz Khan in a news conference conceded that the occupants had cultivated the land for a long time.

However, he pointed out that these illegal tenants were currently occupying around 600,000 kanals of land in different parts of Tangi.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2018.

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