.. by Prof R.K Baig
The mountainous state of Chitral in the past i.e. some three hundred years ago when Industrial revolution was getting momentum in the West was blocked between the high sierras of Hindu Kush and Hindu Raj-that stockpile of glaciers in all valleys but then Chitral had a small population and had a sense of insecurity because of the bellicose designs of its close neighbours as well as raids from some different regions.
The raids were carried out for booti- food items of all kinds as hunger and famine was very common and trails were dangerous. The more ferocious tribal men invaded border regions of upper Chitral that was more vulnerable due to a number of low altitude passes. The appearance of raiders from the north were communicated to distant villagers by a defence system which was called Phumbarash- beacon light. T he defence experts had selected suitable high mounds where a stock of fire wood was always kept ready and three or four families of the nearest village were made bound to light the fire at first seeing the raiders. This beacon light was seen in the lower villages and were alerted to see the flames at the Phumbarash site. Then the next beacon light was lighted and the third and the 4th and this continued till the ruler at Chitral fort was informed and preparations were made to beat back the invaders.
On the sight of the raiders the villagers ran with the members of their families to hide in the secret caves that had been dug at a safe distance from the village. They had already carried their food stuff near those caves and kept hidden in underground earthen pitchers. They left their homes and left some of the cattle to satisfy the raiders which they grabbed and slaughtered for their hunger. Dry fruit were carried away from each house and every house was searched and looted , leaving nothing of value. This search continued for a couple of days and then they moved to the next villages. The villagers did not shoe their presence nor they dared to fight with the ferocious invaders. The old Kho men had devised this system. .. Pro R.K. Baig, Chitral 04 Jun 2021