Marja dwellers protest against land-grabbers
LAKHKARGAH (PAN): Residents, coming all the way from Marja district, on Saturday protested in Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province, against seizing a cemetery by powerful individuals.
Dozens of Marja dwellers arrived in front of the Governor’s Office, calling for the land grabbers to be arrested and brought to justice.
One of the protesting men was Jamaluddin, who accused Haji Mohammad Esa, a wealthy man in Marja, of grabbing their land in connivance with local officials.
He said when they approached the district and provincial officials, they declared the land belonged to the government after being bribed by Esa, who had built a filling station and shops on the land.
He said powerful individuals in Marja had illegally seized hundreds of acres of government lands under the pretext of pilot improvised seeds and fruit seedlings projects. Some pieces of government land had been sold out, the elder said.
Their protest was against the occupation of a land that had been devoted 40 years ago to a cemetery, but property department officials had granted it to an individual, another protester, Sher Mohammad, said.
“The property commission has already leased out 25 acres of the land to Esa, but now the commission wants to sell the remaining part to him,” he said.
Another protester, Dr. Noor Ahmad, said thousands of acres of government land had been occupied by powerful men in the town of Marja, where even cemeteries and mosques were not spared as part of the growing land-grab culture.
"If the government does not listen to us, we would act unilaterally to retake our property by applying every possible means", he warned, saying they would also hold similar protests in Kabul.
The governor’s spokesman, Omar Zhwak, said a commission had been tasked with investigating allegations of land grab in Marja. He said the commission had not yet come up with a decision in this regard.
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