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Land grabbing still haunting Kunduz residents

AT-KABUL: The continuing conflict and the government’s failure to carry out reforms has encouraged powerful armed individuals and groups to grab government and private lands in the northern province of Kunduz.

Residents of the province say that illegal armed groups have control over many districts and continue grabbing lands. They said lack of government administration there causes the illegal armed people to interfere in the personal affairs of the locals.

“The illegal armed people have so far grabbed 8,000 acres of government lands,” a Kunduz resident said, asking not to be named. He asked the central government to take serious steps to stop land grabbing.

“I don’t know to whom should I complain because the land grabbers are in the important government posts.”

Members of the civil society in the province said they managed to prevent some lands grabbing with the help of media activists, but this is still continuing.

“The lands planned to be a park, a green township or government offices have been grabbed. This deprives people to have parks and other utilities,” a provincial civil society member said.

Mohammad Hatam Zare, head of lands department in the province said he was not authorized to speak with media based on an official order from Kabul. But his predecessor, Ibrahmi Torkman had said earlier that totally 9,000 acres of government lands were grabbed by armed people.

The provincial council accuses local officials of having hands in grabbing lands. “The land grabbers are from this locality, they have not come from outside the province. They are working as government officials in the province. If provincial officials really want to prevent the land grabbing, they can easily do it,” said deputy provincial council Safiullah Amiri.

But the provincial justice department said it has returned 1,200 acres of government lands, adding the process of returning the grabbed lands continues.

Provincial police chief Abdul Hamid Hamidi said grabbing government lands is a habit for the powerful armed men, adding that it was difficult to return the lands in a short time.


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