Return to poppy cultivation threatens security
LASHKARGAH (PAN): Government officials on Sunday said the security situation could further deteriorate in southern Helmand province if poppy cultivation was not curbed.
District chiefs, who attended a gathering in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, said farmers had decided to cultivate poppy crops in their fields.
Marja district chief Dr. Mohammad Shafi said more than 500 farmers in areas under government control had prepared their fields for cultivating the illicit crop and 80 farmers had already sown poppy seeds in their farms.
The district chief said so far 15 growers had been arrested and warned those hell-bent on growing the crop would be prosecuted.
Greshk district chief, Mohammad Fahim Musazai, told the gathering farmers had started cultivating the poppy crop, calling for effective remedial measures to prevent cultivation.
Garamser district chief Abu Omar Omari said the crop had not been cultivated in his district after 76 individuals, who tried to do so, were detained.
Similarly, Nad Ali, Nawa and Khanshin district chiefs said farmers who attempted to grow poppy in their fields had been arrested.
Governor Mohammad Naeem said a search operation involving national police and army would be conducted to arrest farmers involved in growing the illicit crop.
He said national army personnel would not allow people in areas under their control to cultivate poppies.
The governor warned Marja and Greshk district chiefs of legal action if they failed to eradicate cultivated poppy crops in their towns.
Helmand police chief Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hakim Angar said police would not allow anyone to cultivate poppy crops in areas under their control.
Provincial intelligence chief, Gen. Mohammad Naeem Momin, said an increase in poppy growth threatened the security situation because preventive measures could spark battles.
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