GILGIT, July 31: A dispute over the headquarters of the newly-established Astore district has taken a new turn because of maneuveres by vested interests, politicians and some local government officials.
The sixth district of the Northern Areas was carved out from Diamer District on November 12, 2004 by the federal government.
Sources said that the government notification in this effect had clearly mentioned Eidgah locality of Astore as the headquarters of the district but some mid-level government officials and land mafia wanted to shift the headquarters to the village of Gorikot, 10kms east of Eidgah.
Historically Eidgah was the regional headquarters during the Dogra Raj and served as the only route for travel between the Northern Areas and Kashmir before the partition and also remained the tehsil headquarters of the additional district of Astore for 58 years with an improved infrastructure to run the administration and other affairs due to its central location.
They said that 80 per cent of government offices and residences were already located in Eidgah.
“Obviously some quarters from Gorikot wanted to shift it to their village as this would provide them an opportunity to swap their lands and real estate for lofty compensation,” the sources said.
The sources believed that in case the headquarters were shifted to another place it would disturb the communal harmony in Astore which has a population of over 120,000 people and also incur huge expenditures on government exchequer on account of new constructions and other infrastructure.
They said the present location is populated by all the communities but the proposed new location is not and this would result in more feuds and fusses in the future.
The sources disclosed the Northern Areas chief secretary had sought comments from the Astore district administration but given the collusion with the vested interests, the administration had reportedly sent the recommendations in favour of Gorikot.
TWO KILLED: Two passengers including a police driver was killed in Astore district on Saturday night when a police jeep plunged into a deep ravine near Nowgam village, police said.
They said the dead were identified as driver Fakhruddin and Mohammad Shafa, residents of Astore.
The vehicle was returning to Astore from Nowgam after dropping the sub-divisional police officer Mohammad Ibrahim at his residence.
In a second accident three passengers wounded when their jeep skidded off the road and fell into a ditch near Doyian village while negotiating a sharp turn.
They were identified as Faqeer Mohammad, Nadeemullah and their friend. The injured persons have been brought to DHQ hospital Gilgit where their condition is out of danger, doctors said.