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PAN (Translated by RAWA), October 28, 2008

The Police Take Bribe, Even from the Beggars of the Shrine of Mazar-e-Sharif

Although a good number of witnesses were presented to the security commander he defended the police officers and didn’t accept that the police are that deep in corruption.

The beggars of Hazrat Ali (ra)’s shrine in Balkh who earn a little money with a lot of difficulties, have to pay 30 to 40 Afghanis daily to the police of the shrine.

Women Peddlars in Mazar
Poverty and destitution drive many women, especially widows, to beg or do some sort of peddlery in the streets.

The police officers who are not satisfied from the monthly wages they get from the government, say that 5000 Afghanis in a month is too less to fulfill their needs and so they are forced to take bribe from beggars.

On average, everyday almost 250 beggars enter the Mazar-e-Sharif Shrine and each earns a little more or less than a 100 Afghanis everyday. The police officers take 30 Afghanis on average from each beggar and this makes 220,000 Afghanis ($4500) per month.

When taking bribe from beggars the police also get violent from time to time. Those who refuse to pay the bribes are beaten and even locked up inside special rooms in the shrine for hours.

Mohammad Mir, a man whose hands is partly disabled and has three children has a broom in his hand from morning till evening and sweeps the yard of the shrine. While sweeping he begs and according to him with the 80 to 100 Afghanis earned he feeds his wife and three children.

Mohammad Mir told PAN he can’t pay the 20 Afghani transport expense and walks a long way. He said, “All the difficulties are not as hard as this bribe thing.”

The beggars of the city who are not able to pay the bribes to the police are not given the prestige of entering the shrine. Incase they somehow get inside they are forced out of the four doors by the police.

The authorities of Balkh Police are acquainted with the violent behavior of the officers in the shrine but when accused of taking bribe from beggars they rejected the claims with certainty and persistently backed up their officers.

The witnesses who had come in hand during a research in the shrine of Mazar-e-Sharif say that the police take bribe from beggars very openly. The beggars themselves confessed that they had got used to this thing which had been going on for a long time and they never bargain with the police over the amount of money.

55-year old Qurban, a beggar of the shrine whose life story is a tragic one, related his most painful experience, “One morning Attaullah, another beggar, and I were begging inside the shrine. Our bad luck had it and soon the police saw us. We had also not paid them the day before. When they found out that we didn’t have money and that we had missed the previous day as well, they imprisoned us in a room. Before letting us out they beat us so much we cried loudly in pain. After letting us out they warned us not to forget their payment again and tell no one about what they did to us.”

Ahmad Shah, a police guard of the south door of the shrine who is dumb confessed using a pen that he and several other police officers take money from beggars.

Officer Abdul Raoof Taj, the commander of the Commanding Security of the Security of Balkh expressed discontent with the excuse of officers which is that they take bribe because the montly wages from the government is insufficient and said that if a officer is not happy with the monthly wage of the police should resign. He said that the Security has not appointed the officers in the shrine as guards and not so that they can fill their pockets with the beggars’ money.

Although a good number of witnesses were presented to the security commander he defended the police officers and didn’t accept that the police are that deep in corruption.

But when asked how to prevent such corruption he indirectly confessed the corruption of his officers in the shrine and said the problem will be solved when the beggars will help them in identifying the officers who take bribe.

Atiqullah Ansari who is the head of the shrine of Hazrat Ali (ra) also complained of the behavior of the police with the beggars. Ansari said that for some time the police allowed the people who sang praises (to Hazrat Ali (ra)) and got money inside only when they paid money.

Ansari said, “Honestly, each religious beggar has struck a deal with the police crops and they pay money according to the deal.”

He added that for a long time many of the beggars had not been allowed inside.

The beggars of the shrine say that the indifference of the authorities of the province has broken their hearts and this hopelessness has made them shut their lips and wait patiently.

Category: RAWA News, Poverty, Corruption - Views: 13175