PESHAWAR                  -           A protest sit-in over de­marcation issue between the tribals of Mohmand and Bajaur districts may turn violent any time and it may also create problems in terms of the coronavirus epidemic, as a Jirga of 50 elders – 25 representatives from each district – remained inconclusive on Friday.

Deputy Commission­er Mohmand district Ift­ikhar Alam told The Na­tion that the area had been disputed for the last several decades.

“It is not something new. After the turmoil erupted recently, we have been trying to re­solve the issue but the tribes frrm both the dis­tricts are not agreeing on a point. But hopeful­ly, the issue would be re­solved soon,” he added.

He also said that the disputed area is the bor­der area, neither owned by Mohmand, nor by Ba­jaur district.

To question, howev­er, he admitted said that a cadets college set up in the dispute area is named Mohmand Ca­dets College, recently re­named as Mamadgat Ca­dets College.

Assistant Commission­er of Bajaur’s Subdivi­sion Habibullah told The Nation that most of the disputed area had been under Bajaur adminis­tration in the past.

“We are trying to re­solve it through jirgas. One Jirga daily meets to discuss the issue,” he added.

To query, he said that they cannot implement section-144 because there are thousands of people from both the tribes and they cannot arrest such a large num­ber of people.

The tribes of both Mo­hmand and Bajaur trib­al districts have staged a sit-in for the last seven days, with calls by local elders that the govern­ment must resolve the is­sue as soon as possible amid the ongoing coro­navirus emergency.

The disputed land, comprise seven to eight villages, are located in the boundary area be­tween the two districts and connects Safi subdi­vision of Mohmand dis­trict and Nawagai subdi­vision of Bajaur district.

A tribesman from Safi tehsil of Mohmand, Imam Shah, told The Na­tion by phone that the area houses Mohmand Cadet College, which is why they say it should be part of Mohmand dis­trict.

Similarly, Hasban from Bajaur district told this correspondent that ma­jority of the disputed ar­ea’s residents are Bajaur tribesmen by race, this is why it should be part of Bajaur.

Eyewitnesses say that tribals of both sides also have arms and in case of clash, lives might also be lost. Also, the commut­ers, particularly patients, face problems due to the sit-ins on Bajaur-Pesha­war road. The police writ in the tribal districts al­ready is weak as their infrastructure is not yet built in the merged dis­tricts.

On the other hand, the district administrations have also failed to re­solve the issue over the past one week.

Meanwhile, sources in Mohmand district told The Nation while re­questing anonymity that Khans (landlords) of Ba­jaur wanted to occupy the [disputed] lands.

“The area remained under Mohmand dis­trict even as per the ter­ritorial responsibility of the FCR law in the past. A former KP governor, who happens to be from the family of Khans, tried to shift a cadet col­lege from Mohmand dis­trict to their Bajaur dis­trict but the college was ultimately shifted to the area that is now called disputed area. This is why now they want to include it in Bajaur and also Bajaur Khans live close to the area and hence want to occupy it in the long run,” the offi­cial claimed.

Former MNA and PPP Provincial Senior Vice President Akhunzada Chittan also addressed a press conference at his residence on Friday and asked the respective dis­trict administrations of both districts to resolve the issue to avoid a con­flict and also potential risk of coronavirus.