Open kuchehries in restive tribal areas better option for common people to lodge their complaints

SAWAN KHASKHELI

Youth activists from tribal-dominated areas recalled the recent past when Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and SSPs with their subordinate officials used to arrange open kuchehries (public hearing) frequently to listen to the people and remove their grievances on the spot.
It was a better way to provide access to the common people to lodge their complaints directly against any issue and resolve the same without any delay.
But now the situation has been changed and nobody from the district administration bothers to come and listen to the people’s problems in the areas. This gap should be filled to avoid any dispute or loss.

They were sharing suggestions at training workshop on peace, tolerance and religious harmony in union council Jagan, Shikarpur district, which attracted 120 youth activists, hailing from neighbouring villages.
The youth members suggested that when they can sit together for learning under one roof why their elders could not sit together to resolve their issues amicably through dialogue. But in fact the tribal chieftains fear loss of their income.

In this situation area activists accuse political parties of making these tribes heads elected to the parliament and allow them to take part in legislation. The tribal heads have never supported the pro-people legislations, which may harm their own interests.

One participant Abdul Qadir, a college student and youth activist of the area said he grew up in an environment where killings in enmity, abduction of rival’s persons in revenge or for ransom are common phenomena, disrupting peace in the entire area.

Mr. Qadir was born in a situation where gunshots, hue and cry and uncertainty always prevailed and forced him to think how to play a key role to end such tribal feuds within different clans. Above all, he wanted to promote peace in the area, where people are spend their lives in fear, can heave a sigh of relief due to mounting uncertainty.

The reports appearing in the local media indicate that the area chieftains-run tribal courts (locally called Jirga), in which rival groups obey the verdicts without any resistance, as nobody can dare to refuse it.

Usually, the tribal clash is assumed a curse in the society, which creates fear and chaos among people.
During this kind of environment mostly parents seem reluctant to allow their children to move out of home, concerning safety of their lives. They always rely on tribal chieftains, who are authorized to assure their safety.
However, a courageous young activist Mr. Qadir took initiative with his friends to settle the recently erupted dispute between two rival groups over a piece of land.

Reportedly, 10 persons, five of each group, were wounded during clash, infuriating them further to continue fight without considering its impacts on precious lives and economic activities. Because the feuds over minor issues always cause losses of human lives, damage to properties and disruption of overall economic activities of the area.
After discussing with his fellow youth, Mr. Qadir went to the rival groups and told them that growing age children need books instead of guns in their hands.

It was amazing that both the rival groups realized and showed their willingness to settle the old dispute. But there was an obstacle that who will take the first step for peace. After motivational initiatives a group went to the rival for resolving the matter without involving any tribal chieftain.
The act was quite inspiring and both the parties decided to get back their FIRs lodged against each other, pleading that they wanted to end the dispute and live in a peaceful environment.
As narrated by local activist the interested side of the story was that the clash had affected the schedule of wedding ceremonies.

After settlement, the groom belonging to one rival group tied a knot from the family, which had sympathies with the opponent group. It was the achievement that after a long time the rival groups themselves have forgotten everything and celebrated the wedding ceremony collectively and started living peacefully without accusing each other of any violation.

The rival groups in this particular dispute gave credit to the young men and female peace activists, who got training from Sindh Rural Partners Organization (SRPO) in Jagan, the UC headquarter. The organization is working on peace-building, inter-religious harmony and conflict redress mechanism through motivating young cadre of the area.

Now the village community has taken another task to reopen a primary school in the village, which has been non-functional due to disturbance. In this campaign also the young cadre is involved. The SRPO- led initiative has made the participants realized to arrange books for the school children to save their future.

The purpose of this initiative of training was to strengthen the capacity of local leaders and youth to resolve community conflicts and deal with the legacy of violence in an open, inclusive, and sustainable manner.

Ms. Zahida Detho, Executive Director SRPO giving her response said the bloody clashes in the northern parts of Sindh province seem worsened for the last three decades, causing colossal loss to humans and properties. Shikarpur is among the five upper Sindh districts, which have tense-like situation in terms of tribal conflicts, including Kashmore, Jacobabad, Ghotki and Kambar- Shahdadkot.
“We are working to promote peace and religious harmony in restive areas through motivating youth, believing the young cadre can play a constructive role to minimize hatred sentiments within common people, residing near there,” Ms. Detho said.

The tribal chieftains have their own business through setting up tribal courts, where they impose fines for compensation of losses, both human lives and damaging properties during the feud. In this situation, the significant factor responsible for resurfacing and long lasting brutal tribal clashes is that the compensation money fixed by jirgas is not given to the bereaved families for the killing of their family members.
In many cases pieces of land has become the bone of contention between the rival groups, residing in neighboring villages, which affects the life and livelihood activities of common people of the conflict-affected areas.

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