PESHAWAR: A jirga in Mardan district has expelled a community of local cooks from a village for increasing their charges by Rs100 for cooking a cauldron at weddings.
The Social Welfare Committee in Kohi Barmol Katlang village asked 10 families to leave and urged the villagers through mosque loudspeakers to begin their social boycott. The men of the families have left for other places, while their children and women at home are facing hardship.
One of the victims told The Express Tribune by phone that there was no food in his house for his family since the local shopkeepers had also been asked not to sell anything to them. He said the children of the ostracised families had stopped going to school because of fear of other villagers.
He said the cooks had increased their charges from Rs200 to Rs300 owing to inflation, which led to the harsh decision by the local committee.
“Our families are in a precarious situation and the government should take up the issue with the committee to allow us to stay in our homes,” he said, adding that their business had also been ruined as no one would hire them.
Another cook, Anwar Saleem, living in Mardan city, said the committee had been taking decisions and working for the welfare of the village but this move had ruined his community’s lives. “The decision was taken on October 19 but we waited with the hope that the committee would withdraw it, but this hasn’t happened,” he said, adding that they did not have any enmity or issue with the villagers.
A local of the village told The Express Tribune that the community had been living there since 1863 in houses on their own land. Saleem believes the decision was based on caste prejudice. “We are professional cooks and the other villagers consider us inferior.”
When contacted, District Police Officer (DPO) Mian Saeed said nobody had been forced out of the village. “They [the families] met me and are at their houses. They had left the place due to the threat of an armed clash,” Saeed said, adding that police had taken preventive action. However, one of the affected people said the DPO had met them but the issue hadn’t been resolved and the men were not returning to the village due to fear.
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