Self-styled vigilantes unleash hell on Qaisar residents
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Residents of the Qaisar district of Faryab province complain gunmen affiliated with the so-called People’s Movement are harassing civilians, looting their houses and robbing them of valuables.
They praise the security operations in the district, led by First Vice-President Gen, Abdul Rashid Dostum, but accuse the movement’s gunmen of torching civilian homes and snatching their motorbikes and other possessions.
Some dwellers claim the armed individuals sexually assaulted a girl in front of her family in the Khwaja Kandu area of the district, whose administrative head acknowledge receiving complaints against the movement’s members.
As the district police chief rejects the harassment and robbery allegations as groundless, the movement’s leaders promise that anyone found involved in bothering civilians will be awarded deterrent punishments.
Under the leadership of Gen. Dostum, Afghan security forces launched joint operations against the Taliban in Qaisar, Almar, Pashtunkot and Ghormach districts of the province some days back.
Fighters of the People’s Movement also joined the security forces in the operation, whose fourth phase in Qaisar entered a second today. Qaisar residents told Pajhwok over the telephone the movement’s gunmen had subjected them to untold suffering.
Inhabitants of Pashtun-dominated areas including Shakh, Nawabad, Khwaja Kandu, Konjak, Chahar Shanba, Ashab Kaf, Faiz Nawa and Qabchin allege the so-called vigilantes have set aflame dozens of houses besides stealing motorbikes and other things during the offensive.
Mohammadullah Kakar, a tribal elder from Khwaja Kandu neighbourhood, insists the gunmen have a history of committing robberies in all villages, where military sweeps have been conducted. In Nawabad area, for instance, the phony volunteers burnt 10 houses and snatched 40 motorcycles.
As many houses were set alight in Khwaja Kandu and dozens of motor bikes stolen in Kochghar locality. “We know Gen. Dostum isn’t behind these incidents; nor has he ordered these acts. But being in charge, he should take note of how these gunmen are treating us.”
He explains army soldiers and policemen behave well with civilians during the sweeps, but the movement’s members have gone as far as to rape a girl in the presence of her relatives in Khwaja Kandu.
“Four gunmen of the movement stormed into Allah Dad’s house the other day. The house owner and his wife were tied in one room and their daughter raped in another,” the elder says, adding area residents are outraged over the incident.
Dozens of elders intending to take the case to higher-ups in Kabul, but the Qaisar district police chief, Nizamuddin, stopped them from doing so.
Abdul Kabir, hailing from the Konjak village of the district, left the area some days back and is currently living with an Uzbek friend in a nearby area. He also blames the movement’s gunmen for burning people’s houses during a recent operation.
Several houses were plundered and all belongings from there were loaded in Mazda trucks waiting outside, he charges, saying he is not aware of what has happened to his own house. He also confirms the rape incident and prevention of protesting elders by the police officer from going to Kabul.
Shakh resident Mohammad laments the gunmen have snatched his motorbike that he recently purchased for 40,000 afghanis. The marauders also decamped with rugs, jewellery and other household items.
In Ashab Kaf village, he adds, the armed individuals fired at civilians and killed four of them as they prepared to migrate from the area. Mohammad shifted to Ghormach district four days ago when his entire village was robbed.
Another Konjak resident, Gul Rahman, also blames the People’s Movement for looting his home before setting it on fire. “In our area, 14 houses have been set alight. The arson attacks have reduced the houses to ruins.” The victims have no links to the Taliban, he insists.
In Kochghar village, people were deprived even of their wrest watches. One of the victims, Saida Jan, blasts members of the movement for snatching 27 motorbikes, 30 mobile phone sets and many watches. His motorbike was also taken away.
Many residents of the areas are pleased with behaviour of soldiers and intelligence operatives, but they are highly critical of the movement as well as two police officers -- Nizamuddin and Shamal. The police commanders are reportedly supportive of the marauding gunmen.
Faizullah, who belongs to Chahar Shanba village, claims two gunmen with links to Nizamuddin have deprived him of two motorcycles and as many mobile phones. He identifies the strongmen as Rasheed Lang and Haider.
“Subsequently, I complained to police. They asked me to go to the gunmen’s houses to collect my bikes and mobile phone sets. But when I went there, they kept me in confinement for a while before giving severe beating,” he whines.
Reminded of these incidents, Nizamuddin thunders: “You, journalists, fan all issues.” Asked why Land and Haider looted civilian houses, he quips: “They have done well. This is none of your business. Do whatever you can.”
The district chief, Rahmatullah Qaisari, confirms receiving public complaints against these gunmen, including those from the Khaizash Mardumi group.
The allegations are currently under investigation. Those found guilty of harassing civilians would be brought to justice, he promises.
Provincial council member Rahmatullah Torkistani, a close ally of Gen. Dostum and in charge of Khaizash Mardumi in Qaisar, also spurns the claims as propaganda by ISI agents.
He says the allegations are levelled in an attempt to raise questions about the conduct of Afghan forces and encourage the militants. He wants victims of the People Movement’s highhandedness to lodge their complaints with him.
Last week, Gen. Dostum assured Pashtun tribal elders in Ghormach district that a family deprived of one matchbox would be compensated with 100. It remains to be seen how the VP, leading the anti-Taliban operation, reacts to the allegations.
The complainants’ names in this report have been changed for security reasons. However, Pajhwok has their real names.
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