Farmers pay taxes to Taliban on govt farms
Growers, who have leased government lands in the town, say earlier they would make rent payments to the government alone, but now the Taliban have threatened them with dire consequences if they did not pay the same to them.
Noor Rahman, who cultivates 40 acres of government land in the third farm area, said he paid the Taliban 1,000 Pakistani rupees per half an acre in rent, which he had already surrendered to the government.
He said now he had grown maize crop on the rented land and had made payement to the Taliban for cultivating the crop.
Rahman warned if such treatment continued, farmers would abandon government lands, which would become barren.
Another farmer, Mohammad Iqbal, some individuals had long been cultivating government-owned land near the fourth farm area without giving rent to the government.
“These individuals only pay money in form of usher to the Taliban, but give nothing to the government.”
Iqbal said the Taliban controlled more than half of government farms in the area and no one could bring it under cultivation without their permission.
He said the Taliban collected 2,000 Pakistani rupees per half an acre of fertile and Rs1000 per half in acre less fertile land.
He said Afghan Taliban treated farmers in comparatively polite manner, but the Pakistani Taliban were ruthless.
A government official in the district revenue department said the government had no control over its lands in Batikot.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said usurped government lands were cultivated without paying any taxes and the government collected revenue from half of the lands it owned. “The Taliban also take their share from growers using government lands,” he said.
The official said the issue had been time and again raised with the governor’s house, but no action had been taken so far in this regard.
He said farmers were in deep trouble due to Taliban’s atrocities, lack of irrigation water and insecurity.
A tribal elder Malak Nasib said Taliban openly collected taxes from farmers in the face of a weak government’s writ.
The canalisation chief, Ziayat Gul Rahil said they had received many reports about the Taliban collecting money from farmers in the name of usher and zakat.
“We have many times told the farmers that the land belongs to the canalisation department, pay the rent to the department, we have nothing to do with the money they pay to the Taliban.” Rahil said the government collected taxes on all its lands which could be irrigated.
Deputy governor Mohammad Hanif Gardiwal said some government farms could not be leased out to farmers in Batikot in areas facing security problems.
He said he was aware of reports that the Taliban had been forcing farmers into paying them usher and zakat. He said he had directed security organs and would direct them again to investigate the issue.
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