by Mohammad Yousuf Zond
Mastuj Chitral, August 31: Irritated people of Mastuj Tehsil at a public meeting here on Sunday demanded that their area should be merged into the neighboring Gilgit-Baltistan, saying the NWFP government has failed to provide them basic facilities and protect their property and lives.
As district administration officials including the DCO Chitral and policemen brought in a truck from the lower part of the district to help the local police meet any eventuality stood by, the speakers gave full vent to their anger on the authorities for their continued apathy towards lingering issues of the area. The largest ever public meeting in the history of the area was held under the chairmanship of Mastuj Tehsil Nazim Shahzada Sikendarul Mulk after the nearby bridge over the Laspur River collapsed for the second time within a month killing three persons.
The area people had warned the government that old and dilapidated materials were being used in the reconstruction of the bridge which could lead to further collapse of the bridge. But the authorities did not pay heed to the issue. Those who spoke on the occasion included Shahzada Sikendarul Mulk, Abdur Rehman, Fateh Ali Shah, Sardar Ahmad and Mohammad Hayat.Through a resolution unanimously passed on the occasion, the meeting said Gilgit-Baltistan has been given the provincial status and the people of upper Chitral should be merged into that region.
Due to its proximity and cultural affinities, the people of the Mastuj subdivision would be better off if they were included in Gilgit-Baltistan, they added. They said for the last many years people of the tehsil had been ignored in all fields of development and as a result today they were deprived of all basic rights, including healthcare facilities, education road and communication infrastructures.
The protesters warned the government that if the bridge was not constructed within a week, they would take to the streets and damage public property. They also demanded that immediate action should be taken and a case be registered against those responsible for collapse of the bridge including the contractor who used old materials in its reconstruction.