Insurgents impose tax on Helmand land owners: Public reps
LASHKARGAH (Pajhwok): Some tribal elders and members of the provincial council on Tuesday said Taliban insurgents had imposed taxes on land owners in southern Helmand province.
“The rebels charge 200 Pakistani rupees (131 afghanis) in tax per acre in our area and they create problems for those who deny the payment,” a tribal elder from Marja district, Zahir Khan, told Pajhwok Afghan News.
He recalled four years ago, the Taliban would collect money from people of Marja to purchase weapons and ammunition.
“People are happy in Taliban controlled areas because with Taliban protection, they can grow poppy crop in their fields.”
“Three out of four parts of Marja are controlled by Taliban while the government has no full control in the fourth part,” he added.
“I own 280 farms and each farm consists of 15 acres of land, but I fled to Lashkargah due to insecurity in my district,” said Salam Khan from Marja district, who is member of the district social council.
He said the Taliban forced him into sending them money in return for allowing him to cultivate crops on his farms.
He said the Taliban had told people that they enjoyed an organised government and tax collection commission and therefore anyone refusing to pay taxes would be dealt with in accordance with rules.
“The Taliban have informed us about the taxes, but the collection process is yet to be started,” a resident of Loy Manda area of the district said on condition of anonymity.
While confirming tax collection by Taliban, the deputy head of the provincial council, Abdul Majeed Akhunzada, said the rebels had earlier been collecting money from traders and drug traffickers in Kajaki district.
“People have complained to us saying Taliban collect money from people forcefully. If people refuse, Taliban create problems for them,” the secretary of the provincial council, Attaullah Afghan, said, adding that tax collection was only the government authority.
Security officials in Helmand denied to comment on the issue, but a Taliban commander in Nad Ali district said on the condition of anonymity that the insurgents did not use force to take money from people.
“We don’t get money from people by force, but people give donations to Taliban,” he said, adding Taliban’s financial commission was working on a plan for tax collection from land owners in their controlled areas.
Currently, Baghran, Deshu, Musa Qala and Nawzad districts are in Taliban control.
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