TikToker fire incident encourages Senator Sherry Rehman to set up a control room in Margalla Hills

Recently, TikToker Dolly released a video where she was seen walking in front of a fire in Margalla Hills. The video garnered severe criticism as many came forward to school the entertainer on starting a fire for a video effect. The police also registered a case against the TikTokers responsible for the fire.

The criticism encouraged the Minister for Climate Change, Senator Sherry Rehman, to issue directives to relevant authorities. Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) were directed to set up a control room to monitor the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP). The monitoring activity will minimize mishaps during the fire season, which usually lasts from April to June.

The decision to establish a control room on the premises of IWMB’s Dino Park office located in the old Marghazar Zoo was shared by Ms. Rehman during a meeting of local officials and representatives from IWMB and CDA. The chief conservator investigating the TikToker fire incident shared that the man who set fire to forests had been identified.

TikToker Fire Investigation Details

According to ministry officials, the incident involving the TikToker took place off the Hazara Motorway. In contrast, another incident involving a man setting fire to the forest with lighters took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa around Abbottabad. The chief conservator of forests (Hazara Zone) is investigating the matter further.

Kohsar police registered a case over the viral video in response to a complaint lodged by CDA official Ijazul Hasan. The case was registered under sections 435, 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 435, 188 besides section 25 of Forest Act 1927, section 5 of Islamabad Preservation of Landscape Ordinance 1966, sections 11/19 Environment Protection Act 1997, and section 26 of the Islamabad Wildlife (Protection, Preservation Conservation, and Management) Ordinance 1979 against TikToker Dolly and others.

According to the police, after the case registration, some persons were picked up. During the investigation, three of them said that they had nothing to do with the incidents. They were set free after verification. The people picked up told police that they observed the fire in the hills located in KP and made the video. They further told the police that they spoke to locals who admitted that they set the hills on fire to kill snakes to protect themselves and their families.

Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman talks About the Fire

Ms. Rehman took notice of the viral video as it shows people blatantly glamourizing bushfires as backdrops for fashion photo shoots and said:

This is a dangerous emerging trend on TikTok, which needs to be condemned vehemently to discourage other impressionable young people who may be misled or seduced by such images into thinking such actions are socially and legally acceptable. Every year section 144 was imposed against campfires, barbeques, and any other kind of fire-related activity inside the protected national park in Islamabad.

She explained:

Forest fires are a visible cost of global warming and are triggered by extremely dry weather conditions. They strike with repeated regularity around the heated-up planet. In California, about 192 acres of forest land were destroyed in one night alone this month. Each year, unfortunately, forest fires consume millions of acres of land, destroying thousands of homes and properties worldwide.

She concluded the statement by saying:

This should tell us that we need to act on global warming both nationally and internationally. No impunity should be allowed for the reckless audacity shown on media in the two incidents.

Police Vigilance in the Matter

Seven fire incidents occurred this season, of which five were minor fires. The large fire blazing on the Haripur side of Margalla Hills was prevented from spreading by joint efforts of CDA, IWMB, and the KP forest department.

When a media channel asked whether the police are duty-bound to register cases over every complaint about cognizable offenses as per the CrPC, the officer said:

As per policy, the capital police registered cases after verifying complaints, and those complaints in which suspects were nominated with their names. Verifying complaints is a time-consuming job, which may be delayed sometimes and takes days to convert into FIRs.

Due to the vigilance of the fire protection staff, fire incidents inside MHNP have reduced as compared to 2021; over 400 officials have been performing their duties inside the park 24 hours a day.

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