PAN (Translated by RAWA), March 8, 2011
People in Kunduz rise against the cruelties of local militias
People claim that the militias take money from families each month and if someone disagrees, they threaten and beat them up
A number of people in Kunduz claim that local militias take their money and mobile phones forcefully and in some cases even beat them up. They say that although this province has been cleared of armed anti-government forces, the people will distance themselves from the government if things continued this way, thus paving the way for the insurgents to return. The people demanded the government to dissolve this illegal force.
Local militias are that group of local people who are not officially in the government, but are armed, mobilized and funded by the government. For now, there are 1,500 armed people in different parts of Kunduz who are part of these militias.
People claim that the militias take money from families each month and if someone disagrees, they threaten and beat them up.
Habibullah, 20, resident of Mongetpa village of Chahardara district said that since one month that the militias have taken over, every family has been charged 200 Afghanis per month. The men say that take the money to their commander. He added, “Last week a man from the militia came to us and said that every married man has to pay 200 Afghanis. When I asked him why he said he doesn’t have time to explain, I shouldn’t ask any questions and just make sure the money is ready tomorrow.”
Habibullah told PAN that three married men lived in their home and they had to pay 600 Afghanis to them. He said, “We thought that when the Taliban are cleared, we would live comfortably without any fear but after the government took over here and local militias came, we have to them.” He added that they don’t have any proper income and work as laborers to earn.
Some people say the militia men take their cell phones away too. 33-year old Daad Mohammad, a resident of the Aaq Masjid village of Imam Sahib district, said the day before a militia man had snatched his phone when he was going to the center of the city and threatened him not to look back. He added that when he asked why they were taking his phone, he got beaten up with the gun butt and his head and forehead were injured. This person added that tens of other people have similar stories.
Ammanullah Itmanzai, an old man from Kunduz and member of the High Peace Council, called the presence of local militias a serious problem for the people of Kunduz and said, “The militias are usually made up of criminals and fighters who work for their interests, not the government’s.”
He said that the militias are not only not a cause of security, but bring misfortune upon the people; take money from the people for buying arms, beat them up and take money from them.
Itmanzai said he has talked to President Hamid Karzai to take serious action against these people and he has promised that the local police will soon replace these local militias.
While some commanders of militias accept their mistakes, they believe the government is responsible for all the robberies and torments caused by the rebels.
Nabi Geechi, who is a commander of a 200 member militia of Qila Zaal district, said that in the start the government promised to give him money and facilities but did not keep its promise, therefore people from his militia are forced to do wrong things for their livelihood and this leads to problems for people.
He adds, “I was a commander of Junbish-e-Islami in the past but after the Karzai government was formed, I started leading a normal life. Security officials of Kunduz came to me and asked me to pick arms against the Taliban and promised me their help including money.” But he said he didn’t get the promised help and is forced to collect money from people.
The commander also said that if his men join the police and earn a monthly wage, they won’t be forced to collect money from the people and there would be no complaints.
Local officials said that soon this illegal force will be replaced with the police force. Security commander of Kunduz, Abdul Rahman Said Khaili said that it has been accepted that 1200 people join the local police and the process of selection of those people by the local people has been left which will take about two months. After that, he said, no armed man other than Afghan security forces and ISAF will be allowed to function.
Said Khaili added that only 100 police have been employed in Kunduz till now and those who join police are paid 900,000 Afghanis (including their wage and other means of sustenance).
The commander said they have received complaints from people about the militias’ wrongdoings. As an example he said that a militia commander called Commander Zia of Ali Abad district had killed a civilian due to some personal feud, the police arrested the commander and although he is an important commander he is still in prison.
It’s worth mentioning that General Bismillah Mohammadi, minister of internal affairs, made a trip to Kunduz a month back and also suggested the dissolving of illegal militias and their replacement with the police.
Last year, a militia commander in Kunduz was accused of raping two women of a family but he denied the charge.
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