Rival claims to land lead to murder
A dispute over ownership of land in Bagrami, Kabul, has led to eight murders. However, the authorities say the land belongs to the government and not to private individuals. An investigation by the Independent Media Consortium (IMC) Productions.*
Rival groups are staking claim to land belonging to 888 Cadastral Military Corps located in Kamari village.
Locals say the heirs of Mohammad Husain, a resident of Kamari village, have sold 273 jeribs to the Kabul-based Ahmad Shah and Habib Saraf (saraf means teller) who in turn sold it to two others, Masihudin and Ashrafudin.
According to the locals, when the two brothers Masihudin and Ashrafudin (sons of Najmudin) started selling off the lands some people objected and as a result 8 people were killed and 11 injured. The deaths occurred between July and October last year.
Some people accuse Ashrafudin and his relatives of murder but he denies the family’s involvement, and says the land is theirs.
But government organisations and some local people say the property belongs to the government.
The Cadastre survey department of Land Authorities in Afghanistan said in reply to a letter from Pajhwok News Agency dated Feb 11 that the land, over 769,850 jeribs, is related to the 888 military corps. (Jerib is a traditional unit of land measurement.) Out of this 752 jeribs were taken over by Mir Akbar and Masihudin, sons of Mir Afzal. North of this is Mamozi village and Botkhak’s sub road, while east and south is mountains and west is the road for Mir Akbar Kermudin and his partners’ land.
Colonel Shahwali, a general manager in the construction department of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says the disputed land was a training ground, and the property of the government. According to him, many hundred jeribs have been illegally appropriated over the last 12 years.
Haji Muhabat Khan Masoud, attorney general (AG) of Bagrami district, also confirmed the land belonged to 888 military corps.
According to Masoud, investigations are underway to ascertain the veracity of Ahmad Shah and Habib Saraf’s deed claiming 273 jeribs of the land belonged to Mohammad Husain’s heirs. What exactly belongs to the government will be identified, he says.
District Governor Ehsanullah rules out the possibility the land could be privately owned. “The hills, rain-fed lands and highlands cannot be private lands,” he told IMC. “The land is government land that people can cultivate on but cannot sell.”
Islamudin, a 55-year-old village elder in Kamari says, “The area as far as I’m concerned is government land but over the years it has been used for grazing and growing rain-fed grains.”
IMC interviewed Ashrafudin who lives in Tajikistan via skype. According to him, Masihudin, his brother, and Samirudin, his nephew, bought 273 jeribs land from Habib and Ahmad Shah who had in turn bought it from Husain’s heirs four years ago. Each jerib was bought at 825,000 Afs (14,526 USD). Ashrafudin who says 1.3 million Afs (22,890 USD) has been paid so far for the land, promised to show the deed but did not.
He claims the problem arose b
ecause people who had wanted to buy the land for as little as 40,000 Afs per jerib (704 USD) were jealous of his brother and nephew, and started the violence to derail their plans to build a township.
Zaher Zamani who’s in charge of the townships surveillance department in the Ministry of Urban Development says permission for a new township has been given only to one township Timur Shah in the Shina and Kamari area. All other townships are illegal, he adds.
Timur Shah will be located only a few kilometres from Ashrafudin’s land.
Meanwhile, Samirudin is in prison for murder and Masihudin is missing. The full payment is likely to be paid following the sale of plots in the township.
Jawed Delawar, who was dis
trict governor for Bagrami during the conflict and then was dismissed on popular demand, said the heirs of Husain have legal deed of 273 jeribs but he does not know whether the deed is real or fake.
But Abdul Wakil, the head of Kamari council, says, “These lands are governmental lands, we and our ancestors have given the tax of rain fed cultivation in the mentioned area in years 1301 and 1302.”
Abdul Wakil says 19 people from Kamari were killed and injured after the locals prevented the selling off of the common lands used for grazing. He insists family members of Masihudin and Ashrafudin have illegally occupied and sold off as plots many hundred jeribs of MoD land. Either houses or compound walls have been built on most plots.
Hayatullah from Kamari who has bought a plot from Samirudin s
aid he paid 800,000 Afs (14,086 USD) and has documents of ownership.
Jawed Delawar, the former district governor of Bagrami, confirms people in Kamari have sold many jeribs of land related to 888 military corps in the last eight years.
Ashrafudin blames armed locals led among others by Abdul Wakil, the head of Kamari council, of selling military land and wanting to appropriate their 273 jeribs.
He accuses them of “abusing the name of Hezb Islami” and preventing the construction of an industrial park.
n Investment Support Agency) says under a presidential decree in 2006 some 3,000 jeribs of military land should have been turned into an industrial park with huge employment and economic opportunities.
Ruhullah Hashrat Ahmadzai, AISA spokesperson says as a result 500 million USD of potential investment has been lost.
Abdul Rahim Samadi, the head of Afghanistan’s territory administration department, says most of the 7,000 jeribs of government land in Kamari have been changed into
residential areas. What remains is a paltry 200 jeribs which is not enough for an industrial park.
According to him, AISA is trying to identify land in the Gospand Dara area of Bagrami instead of Kamari for the industrial park. The Office of Land Exchange and Transfer has started the process for changing the land use.
Until the dispute over land
ownership in Kamari is sorted out investors will keep away, he asserts.
Government authorities are being blamed for the delay by AISA. Likewise locals see the government at fault for not removing encroachers and preventing conflict on the land related to unite number 888.
According to Abdul Wakil, one of the killings took place just 100 metres from the
Bagrami district police commandment on a bright sunny day.
Islamudin, a resident of Kamari, says government apathy, failure to enforce the law and assert government control over the land have “caused disaster in Kamari village”.
Ghulam Haidar, a local, says the involvement of district officials has complicated the situation. Local people would never have allowed it to b
e misappropriated, he says.
Jawed Delawar the former district governor of Bagrami claims he tried to solve the ownership tussle but since the locals were against the sale of land they sought the support of Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, head of the Hezb Islami, a charge its spokesperson denies. Arghandiwal is the minister of economy.
Meanwhile the files relating to the murders are with the appropriate courts, according to Muhabat Khan, the Bagrami AG. All the security authorities in Kamari were replaced in the wake of the murders, and they are also under investigation.
Ashrafudin’s nephew and another person called Haji Feroz are in jail, while some other accused are on the run.
Encroachment of public land is a problem across the country. A commission appoi
nted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) concluded former ministers, government authorities, and members of parliament, local elite and armed groups have grabbed two million jeribs of government land.
There are entire townships with p
etrol pumps and markets that have been built without sanction from the authorities.
*Independent Media Consortium is a joint initiative of Pajhwok Afghan News, The Killid Group (radio and print media), Saba Media Organisation (Saba TV-Radio Nawa networks) and daily newspaper Hasht-e-Subh. This story is part of a series of investigative reports on corruption and human rights cases supported by Tawanmandi.
A report by Pajhwok reporter Khuja Baseer Fetri.
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