Lashkargah mayor accused of trying to evict residents
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): A number of residents of this capital city of southern Helmand province on Wednesday alleged the mayor and some other officials had deliberately diverted the flow of rainwater to their homes, a claim rejected by the mayor.
A resident of “Free Zone” area in Lashkargah, Gul Noor, told reporters the municipality wanted to convert their area into residential plots by evicting them.
He said the municipality had demanded 100,000 Pakistani rupees from each family in return for allowing them to reside in their own homes. He claimed the amount was meant for distribution to the mayor, the acting governor and municipal district heads.
Noor said all government land in their area had been sold out to private individuals by the mayor and the governor, leaving no land for roads. “That’s why they want to destroy some homes to create space for roads.”
He said residents had rejected the municipality’s demand of money and in reaction, the department unleashed rainwater on their houses to force them into payment.
“Last night, rainwater entered all homes in the area, caving in several walls. Children and women stayed in the open as we struggled with water exit.” It has been raining in Helmand since yesterday.
Another resident, Abdul Baqi, said the governor was not allowing him to enter his office and share the problem with him. He said the governor’s house referred him to the mayor, who sent him back to the governor’s house.
“Free Zone residents are poor, they have no money to give it to the officials. All public land in our area is sold out, now they look to our homes.”
He urged the central government to send a delegation to the province to investigate and resolve the issue. He warned residents would resort to protests against the government if their problem was not resolved.
Allah Noor, another resident, alleged the mayor had told them to offer bribes to public representatives or be ready to face more problems.
Lashkargah Mayor Mohammad Fazil Safi rejected the allegations. He said neither he had sought money from anyone nor he had unleashed rainwater on someone’s house.
He said the Free Zone residents had built houses on government land and were preventing the municipality to implement its plan. He said they were trying to resolve the issue.
Pajhwok contacted the acting governor, but he refused to talk and said media people would be briefed on the issue next time.
Helmand police chief Brig. Gen. Juma Gul Himmat had previously told Pajhwok Afghan News that the municipality and the governor’s house had illegally distributed some land plots. He said police landed in trouble after they tried to prevent construction works on the plots.
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