SWAT/SHANGLA: Divisional forest officer, Swat, Waseem Khan said on Wednesday that six persons had been arrested for their alleged involvement in setting fire to the forest in Elum and Shah Dherai areas, while in Shangla after initial investigation in wildfire cases by the forest department four people had been arrested and sent behind bars.
In Swat, Waseem Khan said that after several forest fire incidents in different parts of Swat over the past several days, the forest department, police and district administration following intelligence reports arrested six suspects, including Bakht Rawan, Dost Mohammad, Momin Khan, Dawar and Afzal, all residents of Karakar area, and Syed Rehman, a resident of Dabsar Nawagai in Barikot tehsil, for setting fire to the forest of Karakar Hill.
He said that Kabal police arrested one Shamsuddin, a resident of Shanga Char in Shah Dherai area, who was allegedly involved in setting ablaze Samsu Char Hill in Shah Dherai area.
“Further investigations are under way after registering cases against the arrested suspects under sections 436/427 and Forest Act 33 (a), while intelligence-based operations are under way against suspects who set fire to other hills in Swat district,” he said.
Meanwhile, Swat deputy commissioner Junaid Khan said that about six open kutcheri events were organised on Wednesday for ensuring protection of the forest, including at Pataney area in Babuzai tehsil, Sirsenai area in Kabal tehsil, Kot area in Charbagh tehsil, Karakar area in Barikot tehsil and Miandam and Chamtalai areas.
Apart from local activists and area elders the officials of the district administration, Swat police, forest, wildlife, Swat Levies, Rescue 1122 and Civil Defence participated in the events.
The DC said it was high time to create awareness among local people to plant more trees and protect the existing forests.
“Unfortunately, several forest fire incidents occurred during the past few days in some parts of Swat, which damaged the natural beauty of the forests,” he said.
He said that it was pointed out in the sessions that each community near the forest had to stay vigilant and report any such incident well in time to the administration and police.
During these sessions, the residential houses and hamlets were also identified which were vulnerable to effects of fires and it was decided that rescue operations would be ensured in any such incident.
In Shangla, the forest department registered cases against four persons for setting fire to trees in the mountains during last one week and they were sent to jail on Wednesday.
Sub-divisional forest officer, Karora circle, Zahid Hussain told this correspondent that after initial investigation in the wildfire cases by the forest department four people had been traced and FIRs registered against them in different circles of Shangla.
He said that after confessing to their crime the tehsil magistrates of Bisham, Puran and Alpuri had sent these suspects behind bars besides imposing heavy fines on them.
Bisham tehsil assistant commissioner Mohammad Jawad told this correspondent that he had imposed a fine of Rs100,000 on accused Hussain Ahmad of Shang who had set trees on fire. He said the trees destroyed were planted under the Billion Tree Tsunami Project in Shang area of Bisham.
The forest official said that cases would also be registered against other people involved in the fire cases.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022