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Lesser Known Tribes of Indus Kohistan

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The Distribution of Agricultural Land

In the natural resource distribution system, these people would reallot their agricultural land for three to five years. The situations were reviewed after the end of this duration and the land would be distributed again among the people. Now no distribution is done of the agricultural land on tribal basis ( A distribution might take place in case a small flat land is available somewhere for this purpose.). It has been around eighty to hundred years since it has been given up. In Palas, natural resource distribution was halt for three times:


    Prior to the distribution, large lots were determined of the land existing in the concerned villages and in the valley. The lots of the big chunks of agricultural land were generally formed by estimation or on the basis of previous experience. The estimation of a lot depended also on the number of recipient tribes or groups. In lower Palas, generally four lots were formed because there are four sub groups here. The agricultural lands were distributed more frequently, with profoundness and caution. We will take the example of Shirial valley to understand the nature of distribution process of agricultural land. Darma and Khuka Manka tribes are populated there.


Traditional ownership and distribution of agricultural land in Palas Valley, Razwal Kohistani, 1998


In Shirial, prior to distributing the agricultural land, the area from Ban Bando to Bakro was examined and two lots were determined to distribute it on the basis of two equal shares. The purpose was to distribute it between the groups of Darma and Khuka Manka. Its middle demarcation is the shop owned by one person of Wale community. Hence, the area from Ban Bando to the shop of the Wale person was given to Khuka Manka group and the lower area, i.e. the area from the shop upto Bakro, was allotted to Darma. The members of the relevant groups would be present in the Jirga. They would extend their consensus about certain fundamental principles and rules with regard to the process of distribution. All the disputed matters were resolved and then distribution was started. A draw was carried out to determine the lots of the agricultural land placed for distribution. The first phase of the distribution that was completed between the Darma and the Khuka Manka, according to the draw, the area from the shop of the person of Wale caste till Ban Bando was given to Khuka Manka and the area from the shop upto Bakro was acquired by Darma. This way the first phase was completed.


In the second phase, every group was obligated to conduct the distribution of their land acquired in the first phase, among two of their sub groups. Each group determined two lots of their acquired land. The Darma group formed one lot for the CeraTa clan and the other for the Poensa clan. Again a draw was conducted for these two clans. According to the draw, the areas of Sham was acquired by CeraTa and the Poensa clan got the area of Maidan and Bakro in the land distribution. Since, these all phases are of group level, therefore the land is turned into the units of "hors" and distributed in phases to the groups on the basis of their inclination. When the distribution is completed by making the lots two to three times, the relevant clans start their process of the distribution among their own branches and households. This phase or approach is different than the earlier two or three approaches.


The distribution of larger lots of agricultural land is carried out by "hor" system. At this stage, all the lots of the agricultural land allocated for distribution, are converted into "raTs" and "raTo" and distributed to the castes and households. It also proves that in the distribution of agricultural land, both approaches of natural resources distribution: "hor-wesh" and "Tang-wesh" are adopted. First, second and third phase is completed by "hor-wesh" but when the units of "hor" are converted into the units of "raT" and "raTo", the principle of "Tang-wesh" is implemented.


I discovered the number of castes and the members of the households for the internal distribution in the clan at this stage. If the number of shares for the members in household is, say 16, and one agricultural "raT" also contains 16 shares (ba:go), that "raT" is attributed to and given to that household in the distribution. In case of fertile land, 16 shares were allocated to a "raT" and in less fertile land, 9 to 12 shares. Hence, the households would not face a problem of shortage of food grain.


Hijab of Hakima caste from Pul Bela of Daro Palas told me that in the land half that of one "raT" has a potential of producing at least one hundred "khala" (5000 Kgs.) of food grain. Every owner of the agricultural "hor" or "raT" is responsible to its irrigation.


In the Shin system of Wesh, care has been taken to make sure that the people do not suffer from hunger due to acquiring insufficient land. The permanent and clear system of developing new land on individual basis by clearing forests (khil phoTon) also exists within this system. According to this, such households or tribes could develop surplus agricultural land by clearing the forests on individual basis. Such land would stay in the individual ownership of that household for 12-24 years before including it in the collective land distribution process. This way two goals were achieved by carrying out the land distribution. Firstly, new land was available for the growing population, and secondly, the potential shortages in food grain were suppressed (currently, developing land by clearing forests, is restricted.). The last distribution of agricultural land in Daro Palas was carried out during the period of Sadati Khan. In this, the agricultural land of Daro was distributed to only four clans of Darma group i.e. Sorma, Phirie, derkhana and Bhoe Mugla. In Daro Palas, agricultural land with the Khuka Manka exists at the place of Gadar only which they acquired during Lal Khan's land distribution before Sadati Khan. That land distribution had taken place in Zibho:C (current Shalkhan Abad) in which they had won the draw and had taken the land of Gadar and Kunsher on their own choice. In all the preceding land distributions, the area from Pa:ro to Urni was always given to the Darma clans and only in lower Palas, distributions were conducted between them on "hor" basis.


The "ba:go Tago" was given to the women prior to her marriage, on behalf of her paternal kinship and after her marriage on behalf of her husband. She would be struck off from her father's circle after her wedding. According to the Islamic law, a sister or a daughter is a shareholder in his personal properties. But practically a few people would give her right


As for the Shins in Kolai, at the first stage, Manka group receives one third and the Khuka group gets double the amount of it. At all the later stages, "hor" becomes customary among the sub-tribes and "ba:go" among all households. Similar is the situation with Jalkot. No official record is maintained of all these areas. But from race to race, all information are transferred about the demarcations,"hudood". In case of any dispute, efforts are made for its solution


At different places, the agricultural land of joint ownership is also found that is called Se:r. At various locations, such as Sormo Se:r and Shuki Se:r in Palas, the land distribution had taken place forty years ago. At other places, Se:r have been set aside for religious and professional sections' living. Such households do not have ownership rights to this kind of land. The researcher Jettmar writes calling the specific areas of Se:r a buffer zone that such lands were used to prevent confrontations. But in Kolai and Palas, in all the observed Se:rs, the hypothesis of "buffer zone" was not found correct.


Irrational System

The concrete system of irrigation means for irrigation of agricultural land, their time tables and construction and maintenance of irrigational system is present in the natural resources distribution system. These responsibilities are readily shifted to the new owner of the land alongwith its sale to him. Days are appointed for irrigation of every "raT" or "hor" which can not be changed without the collective consensus. All the owners of the land construct and maintain the irrigational channel together under the "hashar" (community participation) system. These people appoint one person to look after the large irrigational channels whom they call "Wui Saga:lo". The irrigation channel is repaired once and handed it over to him after which he maintains it. Food grain is given to him in return to his work which is paid at the time of maize harvesting. If an owner is absent at the occasion of initial annual repair of the irrigational channel, he is charged one hundred rupees as a fine