GILGIT, June 22: Shepherds and the Chitral Scouts have been accused of expanding their encroachments into the limits of 13,000-ft high Shandur valley ignoring the fact the valley is owned by Ghizer district of the Northern Areas.

Speaking at a press conference in Gilgit, the Northern Areas Legislative Council member, Syed Sarfraz Shah, blamed the Chitral Scouts for aiding and abetting the Chitrali shepherds in setting up huts and cattle in the limits of Shandur valley.

Mr Shah, in whose constituency falls Shandur valley, said Ghizer administration was less cooperative in dismantling the encroachments erected by the Chitralis for 'obvious reasons' as the region's top civil administration hails from the NWFP. "This illegal occupation is depriving us of billions of rupees every year," he added.

The NALC member said historically Shandur was part of the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) as the ruler of Baltistan, Ali Sher Khan Anchan, paved a polo ground at Shandur in 1721 while invading Chitral through Shandur Pass.

Mr Shah also cited the correspondence between the then political agent of Gilgit Agency, Lt-Col Durand, with the British government in Shimla (India) in 1892-93, wherein Shandur was mentioned as the boundary between Chitral and Gilgit.

The NALC member said: "In 1949 the then political agent of Gilgit Agency, Maj Kalf, used to play polo at Shandur in the moonlight which is locally known as 'Masjinari' (a polo ground named after the moonlight) and Chitralis are now bent to deface this historic Masjinari."

Mr Shah claimed that the Survey of Pakistan (NWFP) carried out in 1903, the map (42-D/12) obviously indicates Shandur valley as part of the Northern Areas. He said during a recent meeting on Shandur dispute the Chitralis were asked to produce documents which could have validated their claim on Shandur valley but they failed to do so.

He said a federal commission which has been constituted to decide the boundary dispute between Chitral and Ghizer is to visit the site at Shandur where parties from both the sides would be heard to identify the Indus watershed.

Mr Shah said Ghizer police was reluctant to establish a checkpost opposite to the Chitral scout's and failed to implement the local administration's writ at Shandur. "Our police is busy in fishing out trout fish at Langar, 1.5km away from the actual point, where they are supposed to be and police have wreck havoc with the rare trout fish," Mr Shah said. He said that he would file a writ petition against the encroachment by Chitralis at Shandur.

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