CHITRAL-The hunger strike camp of the Forest and Wildlife Department in Chitral continued for the seventh consecutive day against non-payment of salaries for the last nine months.

The protesters who had set up a hunger strike camp at Booni Chowk in Mastuj tehsil said they were protecting the forests and wildlife for the last three years, but their salaries had been withheld for the last nine months and they had come to know that their services had been suspended.

Muhammad Nabi, an affected employee, told this scribe that he had been working with the Forest Department for the last two years and he had collected a lot of seeds, but he had not been paid for it. Another affectee, Syed Kausar Ali Shah said his children did not wear new clothes on Eid as he did not get his pending salaries of nine months. Shabbir Wali, another affectee at the hunger strike camp, said the employees had been at hunger strike since Monday, but the department had not bothered to send anyone to them for negotiations.

Local sources said four employees at the hunger strike camp fainted on Friday after which they were taken to Booni Hospital. Divisional Forest Officer Ijaz Ahmed said these employees were appointed last year. He said a forest officer monitored the work of these employees and raised objection of their performance in his report. He said the employees had not been suspended. He said an inquiry team had been formed to resolve the issue and salaries would be paid to only those employees who had done their job according to required standards.