GILGIT: The Gilgit police have registered cases against 172 people, booking some of them under the anti-terrorism act, for their alleged involvement in illegal cutting of trees and resisting police action to thwart smuggling of the felled timber out of the area.
The police have started a search operation to arrest the accused.
According to police, illegal deforestation had been taken place recently in Ghasho Pahoot and Chakarkote forests of Sai Juglote in Gilgit district, and that the felled timber was planned to be smuggled to other areas of the region.
Recently, the Gilgit district administration decided to launch an operation against illegal cutting of forest, and dispatched a large number of personnel to the area to take action against the outlaws and confiscate illegally cut wood.
According to the FIRs lodged in the Pardibangla police station, when the police reached the area and started shifting the illegal timber from the area, the outlaws blocked the link road of the area by placing electricity polls and wires on it and diverting a water channel to the road.
The FIR said damage of electricity system, road and water channel caused heavy losses to the exchequer and difficulties for local residents.
The FIRs have been registered against 72 nominated local residents belonging to various tribes and 100 unknown persons allegedly involved in illegal cutting of trees and creating hurdles for police.
An official of Gilgit police on condition of anonymity told Dawn that some of accused had been booked under sections of anti-terrorism act.
It merits a mention here that the forests fall in the constituency of Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman.
Taking notice of massive deforestation in Gilgit-Baltistan, the National Accountability Bureau had recently arrested four GB forest department officials for their alleged involvement in illegal timber cutting in the region and transporting the same to other areas of Pakistan despite a ban thus, causing a loss of Rs225 million to the exchequer.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2017