Gun culture in Badghis has worried residents
QALA-E-NAW (PAN): Residents of three districts in Badghis province are worried about the proliferation of guns, saying that if illegal weapons are not checked, they will cause more chaos.
In the districts of Aab Kamari, Qades and Moqur, carrying a gun has become almost part of the culture, with youth displaying them like a symbol of pride and some families owning three or more weapons, ostensibly for self-defence. Several armed groups are also intimidating locals, causing murders and holding up reconstruction projects, some residents say.
Allowuddin, a resident of Daizangi village in Aab Kamari, said a clinic was supposed to be built in the neighbouring village of Chilank, but that Allah Bakhsh, an armed man, intimidated tribal elders and the head of the development council to prevent them laying the foundation stone of the clinic.
He said there was no reason for Bakhsh to be against the clinic, but that he had caused trouble to people in the village before.
The villages of Daizangi and Chilank lie 30 to 35 kilometres from the centre of Aab Kamari, and so villagers must take their patients by donkey if they want to see a medic.
“If a clinic is built here (in Chilank), we will not need to travel such a far distance to take our patients,” Allowuddin said.
Mohammad Akhtar, head of the council of Qarchaghi village in Qades district, said guns were making the province more dangerous. Last month armed men fired on a car taking a pregnant woman to hospital. The pregnant woman and her female friend were killed and two men in the car were injured.
“Such misery is due to the existence of guns, illegal armed people and ethnic differences,” he said.
Residents have also expressed some concern about a dispute between local commanders in Moqur district of Badghis province.
Abdul Raouf, 45, a resident of Kalan Khana village in Moqur, said Abdul Rahman and Ziaullhaq, two former local commanders, had had several armed clashes.
One of Ziaullhaq’s followers was killed and a female relative of Rahman was injured, he said.
Residents have called on the government to disarm those who hold illegal weapons and provide better security.
But, Col. Mohammad Jabar, chief of police in Badghis, said a number of those who possessed weapons in their village and districts were there to provide security for residents and to fight against insurgents. They were no trouble to the government, he said.
He said that if the commanders were causing trouble it was an internal dispute and police would try to resolve it.
Jabar said they had disarmed illegal groups in Aab Kamari district and that it had been declared a peaceful area. But groups in other districts of Badghis had not yet been disarmed.
“I hope people cooperate with the security forces in order to back government sovereignty and join the DIAG (Disarmament of Illegal Armed Groups) programme.”
Col. Mohammad Naqi, who works in the DIAG commission in Badghis, said about 2,849 weapons, mostly from Aab Kamari, had been handed over to the commission.
However, he said there were still several weapons in remote areas where each family had at least two or three guns. When they tried to convince people to hand over their guns, many refused, saying that unless those in other districts were also disarmed, they needed their weapons to guarantee security, he said.
Aab Kamari was declared peaceful in an attempt to encourage people in other districts to hand over their weapons, he said.
The first phase of disarmament had already taken place in Aab Kamari and the second and third would start soon.
“I hope all youngsters who carry illegal guns will submit their weapons to the DIAG programme and cooperate with security forces,” Nabi said.
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