Kochi Extortion and Looting in Nawur District

With the winter season approaching, the Kochis, who, after about 20 years, has invaded all areas of the Nawur district of Ghazni province, are leaving the region. The residents of Nawur—a predominantly Hazara-populated community—claim that, in spring and summer, the Kochis “destroyed” people’s crops and “looted” their property as much as possible. They emphasize that the Taliban group also supported the actions of these Kochis.

In the past, the Kochis attacked Hazara areas, especially Nawur, but the locals used to resist them. This district witnessed clashes between the Taliban and the indigenous Hazara people every spring and summer. This year, the Kochis invaded Nawur district without much resistance from the local population since they also relied on support from the Taliban.

Due to Kochis having the same ethnicity as the Taliban in the past years, the forces of the Taliban fought alongside the Kochis in the Hazarajat areas against the people’s resistance forces. At the beginning of this year, the Taliban appointed a committee to solve the issue between Kochis and Hazaras in Bamyan and Maidan Wardak provinces, but this committee did not find a solution.

In the Nawur district of Ghazni province, however, the Kochis suggested the creation of a Dispute Resolution Council with the membership of the Taliban to solve the disputes. Mullah Tur, one of the elders of Kochis, was elected as the head of this council. Because of the dominance of Kochis over this council, they have turned almost all the disputes in their favor. The residents of Nawur believe that this council’s decision was implemented with the help of the Taliban.

About a month ago, Kochis complained to the Taliban forces after their five goats went missing in the “Burjegai” area. In the Nawur district, the Taliban arrested three male members of these three families.

“After the goats went missing, these three families were accused of being thieves since their residences were close to the Kochi tents,” the Kochis argued. The members of this council, mostly Kochis and the Taliban members, decided that these three families would have to pay half of the total price of the goats to the Kochis and warned that they would not release the detainees until the mentioned amount was paid.

These three families were forced to pay “An amount of 25,000 Pakistani Rupees to the Kochis in exchange for the loss of five goats in their area”; That is, half of the price of each goat in this council was estimated as 5,000 Pakistani Rupees. A resident of Nawur said that this decision means the following to them: “In Nawur, we are obliged to provide the Kochis food, give their cattle grass and pasture, and protect the Kochis, their cattle, and their properties.”

Taliban Extortion

In addition to the Kochis, the Taliban also forcibly take money from people for various reasons. This action by the Taliban was accompanied by violence, persecution, beating, and torture of the residents of Nawur. Until now, the Taliban have forced the residents of several villages to buy weapons and then submit them to the security head of this group, or else the price needs to be paid.

According to sources, the Taliban have asked residents of “Jiski” village for 120 rifles, “Wasi Mohammad” village for 60 rifles, and “Garmab” village for 25 rifles. The residents of these villages provided some of these weapons and delivered them to the Taliban. Sources further confirm that the Taliban have also asked for weapons in other areas. The process of collecting the weapons has started in some villages and is yet to begin in some other areas.

The Taliban have also launched a house-to-house search in some regions of Nawur. Through this search, this group is looking for former soldiers and weapons. In one case, the Taliban shot and wounded a 13-year-old student in “Wasi Mohammad” village. After about a month, the child is still under treatment at a hospital in Kabul and has been away from school.

The Taliban have started collecting tithes (zakat) in Nawur. According to sources, the Taliban collect between 2000 and 10,000 Afghani in tithes (zakat) from each house in Nawur. The residents of Nawur have repeatedly asked the Taliban to consider natural disasters, including devastating floods, and reduce the tithe (zakat). Local officials of this group said they were following the orders of Hebatullah Akhundzadeh, the group’s leader.

In addition, people say that the Taliban have also delayed distributing aid from the international community to the needy due to not including the Kochis. According to the people, the aid recipients have already been identified, and biometrics have been registered, but no one has received any aid yet.

The residents of Nawur say that they have a tough and challenging winter season ahead of them, and they are forced to give away much of their stock. Natural disasters such as floods and droughts and not receiving humanitarian aid have added to their problems. Nawur residents add that in this year’s cold winter, they either have to stay and die of hunger or leave their homes.

Some residents of Nawur say that they have been forced to leave their homes due to excessive pressure from the Taliban, Kochis, and natural disasters. One of these people said, “I was neither a soldier, nor a previous government employee; I was an ordinary person. The Taliban arrested me several times. Their request was also clear: I should buy weapons and deliver them. This was not within my capacity. I had to leave home at night to migrate to another country.”