Families of Totano Bandai in Swat’s Kabal tehsil want 150 kanals of their farmland and houses vacated in one week which they claim is in the possession of the authorities since the anti-terrorism operation started in 2009. They have warned of extending their protests to other cities.
A protest was held in the area on Friday (February 3), led by Anwar Ali and Muhammad Ali Shah, who are representing the affected families, and members of the youth organisation, Swat Ulasi Pasoon (People’s Uprising). Its founder Fawad Khan and members Aftab Khan and Mufti Arif Ullah protested.
Swat Ulasi Pasoon is a youth organisation that came into being after the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban started making their presence felt again in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Last year, the organisation led a peace march in many cities across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a single demand: peace.
These families say that they are losing income in the shape of monthly rent on the occupied properties. But, they don’t want the rent even anymore and just want to live in their houses and cultivate their lands. These ten families have been living in other villages on rent themselves.
“We have held several meetings in this regard, but the issue has not been resolved yet,” Assistant Commissioner Junaid Marwat told Aaj News. “The administration is trying to resolve the issue.”
Inter-Services Public Relations spokesperson for Peshawar Major Rehman did not respond to Aaj News request for comment given that the security forces have an understanding of the situation on the ground in this area given the military operations. The armed forces were able to clear the area of militants in several operations and inflicted heavy casualties. Scores of soldiers were martyred in attacks by terrorists.
The residents maintain that their lands have been encroached on for the last 15 years by a camp, which was set up after they handed over their land while the conflict was at its height in Swat.
Kabal, one of the seven tehsils of Swat, was said to be the main centre of the Taliban in 2007 and many terrorist attacks took place in its Bara Bandai and Kuza Bandai. Barikot, Matta, Khwazakhela, Babuzai, Charbagh, and Bahrain are the other tehsils.
The families say that they are not allowed to visit their properties inside the camp. They are not able to “even get a grain of crop” from their agricultural lands.