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Lesser Known Tribes of Indus Kohistan

Home Tenure System

Wesh System Wesh Tools Forest Tenure Land Tenure


Distribution of Forests:

All the forests of Kolai, Palas and Jalkot have been defined as private "Guzara Forests" as per Act 1872. These forests have been traditionally and formally distributed (Wesh) among the local groups and tribes about 20-30 years ago. Prior to this, in every valley, the forests were the property of the groups of local people. The forests in every valley are the property of the people pertaining to the local "Rom" there and no one else from the outside or an individual of another "Rom" can become a shareholder of those forests.  The forests in Kolai belong to the group of Khu:k Manak of Kolai. Their internal distribution has been on the proportion of one to three instead of "hor". Similar was the case about their agricultural land. The Khuka and Manka tribes in Kolai avail one third and two third of a share respectively. Perhaps the reason for it is that the ten branches of Chilis and Gabara people are also associated with the Manka tribe (in sharing) and hence, their population is two fold the population of Khuka. Similarly, in Jalkot where Khuka and Manka tribes exist, the distribution was not conducted between them in 1800 A.D on the basis of "hor" and one third of the natural resources were given to Darma like the Khuka tribe in Kolai. It shows that in these two places, the distribution was executed on the basis of "Tang" and not on the basis of "hor". When and where there is a big difference in the population of two tribes or groups, the "Tang" approach is adopted. Contrary to this, the forests in lower Palas have been distributed between the Khuka Manka and Darma groups on the basis of "hor" . One old man told me referring to the forest distribution in lower Palas that

"khara Palas de je:le wesh the:gigi bheo dae ya dibo kal gian. ae je:li hore: qanu:n gi bage:ses. ek kal Kolie baRi jomat de Palsocho kule jarga bili. adi DaRmag Khuka Mankoj ako maji je:lo hore thega:s. asdiu: moCho je:lo wesh na bilis. hore the DaRmag Khuka Mankoj tu:li baieg. kha:N kha:N walej tu:li nikhati asa je:lo hora bage:s. Daro Palas de buT DaRma:n. ae wajaeg Darod Khuko Manko je:l nish. Darog Palse DaRma huCeg guCh alen. Palas de Khuka Manko je:li khar Palas da:n. kha:N wakh de asa khar Palse je:lo wesh DaRmag Khuko Manko maji the:ses, horej na the:ses, asdiu: bae kal pato asa (DaRma) ako maji je:le wesh the:ses. asa ako maji char raTi wesh the:ses, horoji na the:sen. Khuko Mankoj hor gi hares je:l asa ako maji char char hore the:ses. ase char ta:bina:ni: Sorma, PhiRie, derkhana, Bhoe Mugla. a:th asa char char hore the ako maji char tu:li pies. tu:li nikhati ta:bino khosh the hor haregi:n. Dare je:lo maji KaRse bojej hari Dare gu:T bojesh buTa Darmo:no."

It has been thirty or four years since the forests in lower Palas were distributed. We had distributed those forests on the basis of "hor". One year, all the people of Palas held a Mass Jirga in the large mosque of Kolai. There the Darma and Khuka Manka had internally formed "hors" of their forests. There had been no distribution of forests before then. The Darma and Khuka Manka carried out a draw after making the "hors". We carried out distribution of the "hors" of the forests which were identified in the draw. Darma are the owners (of all forests) in Daro. For this reason, the Khuka Manka do not own forests in Daro. The Darma of Daro and Palas are included in the ownership of forests in both places (lower and upper Palas). The forests of Khuka Manka are located in lower Palas. When we had distributed the forests in lower Palas between the Darma and the Khuka Manka, twelve years later we had conducted a distribution of our forests among us. We had conducted the distribution among us on the basis of making four "raTs" of it and not on the basis of "hor". We had made four "hors" of the forests taken from Khuka Manka on the basis of "hor". We have four clans: Sorma, Phirie, derkhana and Bhoe Mugla. This way by making four "hors" for each, we conducted four draws mutually. The winning clan has taken the "hor" of its choice. The forests beginning from the steep bend of KaRas to the last edge of Daro, all belong to the Darma.

 

Traditional Forest resource ownership and distribution

In the first step, the Darma and the Khuka Manka groups converted the forests at various places into the pieces as "hors". Then a draw was made in both the groups. The practice in the draw is that the winner in it has the right to take the forest or land of his choice from within the forests or land identified in the draw. After twelve years from it, the Darma groups distributed the forests acquired in the distribution with the Khuka Manka, among their four clans by draw and gave the ownership rights to them for the forests acquired by them. Now those forests are the property of clans. The ownership rights to these forests have not yet been transferred to any individual caste.

 

Forests are generally demarcated by nalas, sky-lines or boulders (in Kohistan). The working plans of Forest department are void of the local traditional demarcations.

The clans and groups are free in decision making about their owned forests. For instance, in lower Palas every clan freely decide the matters related to their owned forests and another clan has no entitlement to intervene in it. Similarly, the Darma group in Daro Palas has a traditional right to make free decisions with regard to their forests. Only the owning clan or group has the right to a commercial timber logging in the distributed forests and the revenues generated this way, is distributed among them on the basis of "Tang-wesh". The non-timber commercial items and the items of domestic use such as collection of herbs, fuelwood, grass, and hunting, etc. are openly permissible to all in these forests.

 

The Darma group in Daro Palas had carried out the commercial timber logging of their forests in 1800 A.D for the first time in Khab Kot, Dewan, Kundul and Chor, etc. and for the second time in 1884 A.D for many times by the contractors pertaining to Kaka Khel tribe of the Pukhtoons. Forests bear much economical importance in the current age. So, local disputes are also mounting in these matters.

 

Dynamism and competition increases among the Jirgas of the circles of the clans due to the ownership rights over the forests. Steps are taken to hold Jirgas. Positive and constructive thinking generates among the people due to integrated consultations. Preparations are made at the level of clans and groups for the protection and defence of forests. For instance, this process is going on in Kolai for the last many years against Swati Pathans. Similarly, the forest disputes of the Phirie in Palas and of Khoja tribe in Kolai and the fights between the people of Palas and     Kolai are the most important such examples.

Forest and its revenues are used as political tool also. Forest contractors supply financial help in order to keep such movements alive.

       

     People think of the forests of pine trees, cedars, firs, spruce and Chalghoza (?) by the word of "forest" and the term of "bando" instead of forest, is common among them for the forests containing trees with flat leaves.

 

            Forest royalty is now distributed on the basis of shares rather than "hor" among the concerned groups or clans taking their population into account. Prior to 1992, royalty would be distributed on the basis of "hor" among the relevant groups or clans.

 

            Any individual or household of Kolai, Palas and Jalkot who is entitled to acquire the rights granted in wesh and where he was accounted for allocation of his shares, he can be accounted for to get royalty in his "Rom". No one can get royalty at two places at the same time nor can he enter into another economic circle.

 

            No one can terminate the right to royalty given to a household or an individual under the auspices of natural resource distribution system (wesh) nor such a household, a branch or an individual can be expelled from its earlier appointed economical circle regardless of whether he is living inside the valley or outside of it.

 

Distribution of "bando"  (sub tropical Oak forest)

There are two senses of "bando" in Shina language: winter "bando" and summer "bando". Its well known meaning is the land occupied of trees with flat leaves on the River Indus bank or at the edges of streams and gorges in the lower areas of the valleys where people would be migrating to alongwith their cattle in winter season. Such area bears great importance for people's economy of herd raising.

In Palas, Kolai and Jalkot, all such "bando" have already been formally covered in natural resource distribution system. However, among the lower branches of the clans, its distribution is still going on. For instance, at a place called Le:Ri SaC, among one branch of Didra caste, a permanent distribution was done in April 1997.

 

 Traditional ownership and distribution of Oak forest among Shin tribes of Palas Valley, Razwal Kohistani, 1998)

     The distribution of "bando" has been going on in different periods. Its duration has been longer than the duration of agricultural land. During the well-known expert of natural resource distribution system, once the distribution of "bando' and agricultural lands was done at the same time. After it during the periods of Lal Khan and Sadati Khan, it was done separately.

 In the Shin Wesh system, the distribution of "bando" and the various patterns of ownership rights to it, has been very complex and not easy to understand the socio-economic implications of those rights to ownership. For instance, if a piece of a "bando' has been received by a clan at certain place under the system of natural resources distribution, it is not essential that his agricultural land or his forest is also located around there. Rather the agricultural land of some other caste or branch may be located there. The reason for it may be that there is some distinction between the ownership rights of a forest, "bando" or agricultural land. According to the traditional law of natural resources distribution, the locations of these natural resources do not effect one resource in return to another or the ownership rights (In Jalkot, these laws are trespassed.).

 

In Daro Palas, if the "bando" is located inside a "hor" belongs to a caste or clan, then the wildly growing grass in that land and the trees are also considered their property. By the same token, an agricultural land and cultivated grass within the limits of that land may belong to some other household or a branch. (Conflicts are resulting from it nowadays).

 

The distribution of "bando" was carried out on the basis of "hor" in case of their larger volumes. These have been distributed to the sub-groups and clans. Within the clans, they were distributed on the basis of sub-branches. If we try to understand it from the examples in the lower Palas, we would find three kinds of owners to these "bando":

*       Two different sub-groups, who own only the land under it.

*       One sub-group owns the trees as well as the land but the other shares with him only the land under it.

*       The lower branches of the clans of sub-groups who own the current trees and the grass in the piece of "bando". One old man told to me that

            "Palas de ba:nde weshe wakh de Jaoser Ce raTeg MankoR de:gas. Jaoser khar Gabera yabej khareR, sere: jumtej huCeR ae ba:ndo Manak Ce raTino. Manka hanek adi thal de CeraT se Talen. ba:ndo hanok CerTo du: ta:bina, Sormog PhiRio maji bagi:lun. adiu: pato ae ta:bino maji Tal zato hore qan:n gi ba:ndo bagjilun. MoZkaosi:ne baRo aChoej hari Zubho:Ce tha; buje:sh hano ba:ndo Poensog Khuko shirkatun. ba:no hanok Khuko:no, sum hanok bidho:N shirkatun. ba:nde char hore Khawas da:de wakh de the:ga:s. Kunsher, KaRu: Se:r (Pa:ro, Khaliar), Gadar, Kundul. le hora:si. ae horeg tu:lej khosh the: hariega:n. muChini du: tU:li Khuka Manko nikhatia:si. seNa khosh the: Gadar ge Kunsher hariega:s. se wakh de Gadar ge Kunsher lei ru:idaris. ae wesh Zibho:C de bilis. adi Khawas da:do ake: na giaos. sese lo:go Za Ha:man giaos.  Palse sinkaRi ba:ndo maji CeraTeg Manka, ha:N Poensag Khuka ako maji Tal thone waj ani:s che ae watan ek ta:bin ya qo:me qabsad na boje. ba:ndchos ba:nde muTheg kaCe tasrup thi:no. seseR ba:no mul donge gha:Na thone: haqun magar thal hanuk muli na doba:no te che ba:nde thal hanuk shirkatun.

 

                At the time of distribution of the "ba:ndo" located in lower Palas, the "ba:ndo" in Joeser alongwith its three "raTs" was given to Manka. The "ba:ndo" beginning from the irrigation channel of Gaber down below and further down from the masque at the flat lands, this "ba:ndo makes three "raTs". The Manaks are partners with the CeraTa in the ownership on this earth. The "ba:ndo" has already been distributed among the two clans of CeraTa namely Sorma and PhiRie. Later on, the "ba:ndo" was distributed among the castes included in these clans by "hor". All the "ba:ndo" existing from the large walnut tree of MoZkaosen upto the village of Zibho:C, is jointly owned by Punjsa and Khuka. The "ba:ndo" belongs to the Khuka and the land below it is jointly owned by both. Four "hors" were made of the "ba:ndo" at the time of Grandfather Khawas. The four "hors" were Kunsher, KaRu: Se:r (Pa:ro Khaliar), Gadar and Kundul. They took these "hors" by a draw and on their own choice. The first two draws had come out in favour of Khuka Manka. They had taken Gadar and Kunsher on their own choice. In those days, Gadar and Kunsher were very beneficial. This distribution took place in Zibho:C (on the bank of River Indus). Grandfather Khawas had not come himself to this distribution. His step brother, Ha:man had come.

 

     The reason for grouping CeraTa with Manka and Poensa with Khuka, was that this land does not go into possession of any one clan or tribe (either Darma or Khuka Manka as a whole). The attendant of "ba:do" takes care of it and benefits from the trees and fodder in it. He has the right to sell or lease it out. But he cannot sell the land under it because the land is a joint property.

 

It shows here that the distribution of "bando" in the lower Palas was conducted by the collaboration between two opposing sub-groups in the first steps. At this stage the land in the "bando" and the rights of ownership of the trees were given to CeraTa, who are a sub-tribe of Darma, on the basis of draw while the Manka, who is the opposing sub-tribe, was given the rights of ownership of only the land under it and the ownership of its production was not given to them. At the other place, the Poensa branch of Darma were given the co-ownership rights of the land and the ownership of the production was given to the Khuka. As is obvious from the aforementioned statement, the purpose of this strategy was that any one group does not hold possession of the resources and the tribes could play their role by cohesion.

 

This sort of tribes, who have the ownership of the land and trees, each of them conducted a distribution of the "ba:ndo" among their two clans respectively at the second stage. Then the clans transferred their ownership rights of the trees and the grass to their sub branches. They are called "ba:ndcho" and it is them who are the real beneficiary of it. Small units of a "ba:ndo" do not exist (in Kohistan).

 

The areas of the "ba:ndo" provide an opportunity of migration to the households and the tribes in winter. This way a strong foundation is available to the herd raising economy. Some areas of "ba:ndo" are located and jointly owned on important winter locations such as Muroo (?). Nowadays, this important resource on which cattle raising depends highly, is quickly cut and sold.