Private jails being run in Balkh, allege PC members
MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Private jails are being run and government officials are involved in land-grabbing in northern Balkh province, alleged members of the provincial council on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference regarding ongoing political differences over the past one week in the province, the PC deputy head, Shujauddin Shuja and some members said they had been raising their voice over the past few days for investigation into the existed problems in Balkh.
About PC head Afzal Hadid’s yesterday’s remarks at a press conference, Shuja said as members of the provincial council, it was their duty to monitor activities of provincial government departments.
Shuja and another member of the provincial council, Mohammad Asif Momand, had previously claimed that weapons were being distributed to illegal armed groups.
Hadid yesterday said Shuja’s and Momand’s remarks were against the provincial council’s law and norms.
But today Shuja said they performed their duty line with the provincial council law and principles and they had exposed injustices and factors behind insecurity in Balkh.
He said they had no gunmen and they did not support powerful individuals and those behind land-grabs. “Our struggle is legal, we are not provoked by a particular group or party. It is our deputy to investigate problems in the province,” Shuja said.
The public representative said thousands of acres of government and private land had been grabbed in Balkh over the past 15 years and even land around the Hazrat Ali Shrine had not been spared. “You all know provincial council members are not behind these land-grabs but those who are ruling this province.”
Shuja once again insisted that unauthorised people were being distributed illegal arms. He also said privately-run prisoners existed in Balkh, but did not go into details.
“If an authorized delegation comes from Kabul, we will present them evidence about where the illegal arms are and who possess them, who are behind land-grab and who run private jails. The people of Balkh know these all.”
He did not say who run the private jails but said if a powerful delegation came from Kabul, they would produce individuals who had spent time in the private jails. Shuja also said some departmental heads in Balkh could not be replaced during the past 13 years.
Former PC head Mohammad Ibrahim Khairandesh also confirmed injustices, unbalanced development and concentration of power within a single group in Balkh province. As an example, he said the municipality’s director and his four deputies belonged to the same tribe and party.
Khairandesh said the provincial government earned one million afghanis in revenue per day, but last year’s revenue was shown as 90 million afs only.
He said he had repeatedly shared these problems with the provincial governor during his tenure as the provincial council chief, but to no avail.
“Whenever we had spoken about injustices, the governor and his aides had considered us linked to a particular group.”
He said he had travelled to Kabul many times and had shared the problems of Balkh people with the unity government leaders, but his efforts produced no result.
About a planned protest demonstration on Saturday, Khairandesh said: “The people of Balkh waited for 15 years for the governor to think about others as well. But neither the governor changed his mind nor he listened to us.”
Another PC member Syed Abdullah Masroor named some individuals who ran private jails. “Who are Agha Mohammad and Nazar Gul in Sholgar district, to which group they belong to,” he asked.
He did not say as to which group the two individuals belonged to, but said they had hundreds of illegal gunmen and had established private jails.
Munir Farhad, the spokesman for the acting governor, said criticism and protests were everyone’s right under the law, but rejected as baseless claims about the existence of privately-run jails and the involvement of the governor in land-grab and the distribution of illegal arms to unauthorized people.
He said no tribe was discriminated against in Balk and all appointments were made through open completion and in line with directives from the ministries concerned.
About Saturday’s protest, he said every Afghan had the right to raise his voice through peaceful protest.
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