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26 February 2020

'Stop charging Environmental Activists under Anti Terrorist Courts' Residents

Press Conference

Chitral — For the last three years residents of Ayun Valley in Chitral are in protest against Timber Mafia and commercialization of forests in the region.  They maintain that the government and local administration of Chitral ought to stop patronization of Timber Mafia and let the green trees take a breath of relief. Masses have staged several peaceful protests in Ayun Valley for the last couple of years but to no avail.  The local administration, however, has remained hell bent on crushing the protests. On December 28, last year, security forces were called in who immediately imposed a curfew.

Those who were arrested around that time are being charged under the infamous Anti Terrorist Courts and the public in Chitral has urged the government to stop the misfit practice immediately.

A large number of village notables and local leaders set a joint press conference in Chitral to record their protest.

“Deforestation damages our environment and government should realize this. Instead, local administration of Chitral abets the Timber Mafia in the crime. Peaceful people, who protest against deforestation, are being charged under Anti Terrorist Courts which we believe is a thoughtless misfit.” The leaders said in the press briefings.  They urged the government to immediately bane commercialization of timber in Chitral and release the environmental activist of the charges . The villagers appealed the government to back off its practice of prosecuting people under Anti Terrorism Courts in every petty matter.

They also warned the government of stern action if their demands are ignored. They said that they are with the protesters of Ayun Valley who have initiated the Anti Deforestation Campaign in the area and together, they will aggrandize agitation if need arises.

The Press Conference held under the chair of Shahzada Sikandar Ul Mulk, former Tehsil Nazim Mastuj and he was accompanied by Maulana Abdul Akbar (former MNA), Haji Zafar Ahmad (former MPA), Abdul Wali Advocate, Sardar Ahmad (retired Assistant Commissioner) and several other local leaders and village notables were present.

In the past, Ayun Valley of Chitral has been severely hit by Flash floods and it is believed that the mass deforestation in the region by Timber Mafia has increased the intensity and volume of floods.

G.H Farooqui has contributed to this story from Chitral, Pakistan
Photo Credits: 
G.H.Farooqui © 2012