FIA impersonators on prowl in Lahore
SWAT: Over a dozen traders from Swat have reported being swindled out of their money at Lahore bus stops by a gang impersonating Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials claiming to check for counterfeit currency. Mohammad Ishaq, a cloth trader from Mingora, and his friend Malak were deprived of hundreds of thousands of rupees after they arrived in Lahore from Swat via Shahid Coach at 5am.
“At Batti Chowk, a white car stopped in front of us and two men got out and introduced themselves as FIA officials. They had walkie-talkies in their hands and asked to check our cash as they were looking for Pukthoons involved in making fake currency. I had Rs1,200,000 which I handed to them. They counted it and checked it and put it back in my pocket. They did so with my friend too.”
But a little while later, when they checked their money, it was not all there. “They had taken Rs600,000 of my money and half my friend’s. We looked for them here and there but could not find them. We went to a nearby police van and registered a report,” Ishaq said.
Ishaq and his friend returned to Swat after a few days without getting their money back. Theirs is one of 13 such cases involving merchants from the Swat valley alone. Some of them have complained of getting no assistance from the police.
Umar Khan, a cloth merchant from the Madyan valley, was also looted with his friend when he arrived in Lahore early in the morning. “We travelled by Daewoo bus and then got into a rickshaw for our hotel. All of a sudden a white car stopped in front of us and two men got out and asked us to show our money because they wanted to check for fake currency. They checked it, gave it back and sped off. But more than half of the money was gone.”
Khan and his friend went to Ichra police station in Lahore to file a complaint, but the police initially refused to register a First Information Report (FIR), he said. “I had a source in Lahore so they registered the FIR. We stayed there for 15 days and spent the rest of our money in hotels, but they never found the thieves.”