PAN, February 11, 2015

Factory workers protest against land-grabbers

Workers say their 75 houses remained usurped by former Afghan Local Police (ALP) commanders and some powerful individuals

Workers of a textile factory on Wednesday protested against powerful individuals for grabbing houses the government has constructed for them in the capital of northern Baghlan province.

Based on a decision by the parliament, the newly-constructed houses in Shar-i-Naw, Yaksad Penjakoti, Dosadkoti, Shashsadkoti areas of Pul-i-Khumri and those constructed on the left side of the Pul-i-Khumri river belong to workers of the textile factory.

Documents of the land plots have been issued to workers who have been working in the factory for the last 12 years. But the workers say their 75 houses remained usurped by former Afghan Local Police (ALP) commanders and some powerful individuals.

More than 100 workers on Wednesday gathered in front of the governor’s house in Pul-i-Khumri. One of them Mohammad Ibrahim Haba said: “The grabbers are refusing to withdraw from our houses. We have repeatedly complained to government officials, but they did nothing.”

He said the parliament had also promised the distribution of plots to workers who lacked their own houses, but no action could be taken in this regard.

Another worker Mohammad Zahir told Pajhwok Afghan News local officials, including the governor, had failed to deal with land grabbers and retake properties they had usurped.

“I spent a long part of my life working for the factory, but still living in a rented house. Houses constructed for workers have been grabbed by others,” he said.

The angry protestors warned of continuing their rallies and blocking the Kabul-Shamal highway for traffic if their problem could not be resolved.

Deputy governor Abdul Qadim Niazai, who is responsible for distribution of the plots to the factory workers, confirmed the problem.

He said last year’s electoral crisis, the delay in naming a cabinet and uncertainty in provinces had been the main reason they could not address the issue.

“We would seriously follow the issue and return the houses to the workers and distribute land plots to the rest of them in cooperation with the relevant organs,” he said.

Provincial council member Samiullah said they would share the problem with senior government officials in an attempt to find a solution to it.

Police chief Brig. Gen. Aminullah Amarkhail said he would enforce the law and let no one forcibly take away others rights.

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