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Death to land grabbers: Protestors

AT-KABUL:  A large number of Logar residents on Wednesday took out to the streets to give vent to their anger against the evil practice of land grabbing, and blocked the Kabul-Gardez highway in central Logar province for traffic.

Hundreds of local tribal elders and residents of Mohammad Agha district took part in the protest, chanting “death to grabbers” and calling for their arrest. The demonstrators asked the government to take action on the issue.

Sher Ali, a protestors and a tribal elder, told Pajhwok Afghan News that 1,500 acres of government land had been grabbed in Mohammad Agha district.

“The government should retake that land and build a township for homeless people there,” he said.

Another protestor, and tribal elder, Essa Khan, said that most residents of the district had no shelter while large areas of land hand been usurped by some powerful individuals

“Many people have built houses on farmlands, while others don’t have farmlands and houses,” he added.

The government has to retake its grabbed land as soon as possible, the demonstrator said, warning that the block road would not be reopened until the protestors were not assured of positive action.

To conduct protests and to raise voice against wrongdoings is the right of everyone, Ajmal, a driver said, but added that the protesters should not create problems for others.

“Hundreds of cars, some transporting patients to hospital were stranded on both sides of the road,” he added.

Campaign against land grabbers is our priority, Salim Saleh, the governor’s spokesman said. “The land that people are protesting about in Mohammad Agha belongs to the government. It would be retaken soon.”

According to the local officials, around 20,000 acres of land has been grabbed by 1,800 people in Logar province. They say, 3,500 acres of the land has been wrested back so far.

In the past 15 years, land disputes have become a permanent feature of Afghanistan’s landscape and also a primary driver of conflict in the country. Land grabbing has reached its peak mainly after the collapse of Taliban regime. Land mafia groups have increased their activities as soon as land value has increased.

The National Unity Government should come up to the fore with a clear mechanism, aimed at preventing land mafia from further grabbing state-owned lands. If the government failed to prevent mafia groups from usurping the lands, it would show weakness of the government. It is the responsibility of the government to assure people that land mafia groups would soon face the music and all grabbed lands would be retaken from the usurpers.

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