Land grabbing in Sar-e-Pul
Photo: Sent to KabulNow

Locals Protest Over Land Grabbing by ‘Pashtuns’ in Sar-e-Pul

A number of locals in Sar-e-Pul province staged a protest against what they described “grabbing of their lands by Pashtuns” in the northern province of Afghanistan. Land disputes have increased between locals and the nomad Pashtuns in some northern provinces under the Taliban.

Residents of Adrang, Balghali, Qala Sukhta, Laghman, and several other villages held the protest on Monday, December 19, in the capital city of Sar-e-Pul.

The villagers claimed, “Their ancestral lands are being grabbed by the Pashtuns from Maidan Wardak province who do not have any [ownership] document.”

A source told Kabul Now that the Taliban have marked some lands belonging to the protesters and set an ultimatum, saying that they would return these lands to “the original owners” who are Pashtuns from Maidan Wardak province.

Local Taliban authorities have yet to comment on this issue.

Some of Afghanistan’s northern provinces have seen a rise in land disputes between the locals and Pashtuns from other provinces, mostly the nomad Pashtuns or Kochis, ever since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021.

In most disputes, local residents have accused the Taliban of supporting the Pashtuns and of demographic manipulation in these provinces which are mostly populated by non-Pashtuns.

In May, residents of Jowzjan province shared videos showing destroyed farmlands. The locals claimed that armed Kochis had destroyed and grabbed tens of hectares of their farmlands.

In the northeastern Takhar province, deadly clashes erupted between the villagers and armed Kochis in mid-September over land disputes. These clashes left at least two locals dead and around 20 others wounded in Khwaja Bahawuddin district of the province.

According to the locals, the Kochis who claimed ownership of their farmlands had come from Waziristan regions of Pakistan and southern provinces of Afghanistan.

Sending a conflict resolution delegation on September 19, the Taliban received a commitment from the two sides to not resort to armed clashes and solve their disputes through the due legal process of the Taliban regime.

On June 22 this year, local residents of Qaramqol district in Faryab province held a rally protesting against the distribution of National ID cards or Tazkiras to the nomad Pashtuns as locals of the district.

A local source confirmed to Kabul Now that the local authorities of the Pashtun Taliban dispersed the protest rally and threatened the villagers to death.

Later, the authorities issued a direction instructing the local population registration authority to immediately restart the distribution of IDs for the nomad Pashtuns in the Uzbek-dominated district.

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