Taliban collecting tax from Farah landowners
FARAH CITY (Pajhwok): Residents of western Farah province on Tuesday said the Taliban had started collecting money from landowners as tax once again, a charge the rebels denied.
Mehrabuddin, who owns 35 acres of land in Ganahkan village on the outskirts of Farah City, the provincial capital, told Pajhwok Afghan News he paid 7,000 afghanis to the Taliban last year.
“Few days back, the Taliban once again phoned our elders and asked them for the payment of land tax, the tax collection has been currently underway here over the past three days,” he said.
He said the Taliban charged 2,000 afghanis on five acres of land each year and people had to pay the money to avoid the wrath of the insurgents.
“Though areas around the provincial capital are under government’s control, but the Taliban openly move and threaten people who refuse to pay the tax,” he said.
Mehrabuddin said the tax collection process by the Taliban was underway in various districts. The Taliban last year collected the same tax from people, he added.
A resident of Nawbahar area of Farah city, who wished to go unnamed, said people in their area paid 250,000 afghanis to the Taliban last year. He said the militants this year resumed the process a few days ago.
“The Taliban have a list of landowners in this village and people in Pushtrod district also pay them taxes,” he said.
Most parts of Pushtrod district are under Taliban control. The resident said people feared the Taliban and had no option but to pay the money.
Javed, a resident of Ishaqzai village of Farah city, also said the Taliban had collected 6,000 afghanis from landowners last year.
“Denying money to the Taliban is risking one’s life, so they are helpless,” said Javed, who confirmed the Taliban were collecting land taxes from people in a number of other villages in Farah city.
A civil society activist in Farah city, Baryali Nasrat who is resident of Regi area, said the Taliban a few days ago warned residents of his area to pay taxes to them or face dire consequences. He said the rebels had threatened to block water flow to the area.
“People pay money to the Taliban without asking questions,” he said, expressing concern over the situation. He said the militants used the tax money to purchase weapons and target Afghan security forces.
Farah provincial council secretary, Dadullah Qanay, said poor governance and widespread corruption in government offices had paved the ground for the Taliban to spread their influence to even central areas and collect tax from people.
Calling the Taliban’s action a cruel, the public representative said they had several times shared the issue with senior government officials, but in vain.
The provincial government does not reject the tax collection by Taliban in some districts and villages of the province.
The governor’s spokesman, Mohammad Naser Mahri, said the local government had taken measures to prevent the Taliban from collecting tax from people.
He said meetings with religious leaders and tribal elders, deployment of more security posts and improving the security situation were part of the measures.
However, the Taliban rejected they were collecting taxes from landowners. The group’s spokesman, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, in an email said the Taliban had no plan to collect taxes from people in Farah.
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