Extortionists still preying on Karachi traders
KARACHI: Shopkeepers pulled down shutters in the Shershah scrap market on Wednesday after an armed holdup in the morning to lodge their protest against a continuing breakdown of law and order in the area.
Armed suspects riding motorcycles came to the market and robbed a shop of cash and valuables. They took away seven cellphones and around Rs50,000 cash, according to Mohammad Zahid, the president of the Scrap Market Association, who said that the robbers also looted a customer who had come to buy power cable from the shop.
“To lodge their protest, shopkeepers of the market pulled down shutters soon after the robbery. However, they resumed their routine business in the afternoon when senior police officers came to the market and assured them of suitable measures for security.”
DSP of Liaquatabad Qaiser Ali Shah said that the robbers targeted only one shop and took away some Rs5,000.
“We have deployed 135 police personnel along with six mobile vans at the Jahanabad police post to ensure security in the market,” said the DSP.
He alleged that the incident was being blown up out of all proportion by the association, which seemed to be trying to get mileage out of the situation where city traders were protesting against extortion.
“They have not yet come to lodge an FIR of the robbery,” he said.
Mr Zahid, expressing concern over the worsening law and order in the Shershah Market, told Dawn that for a week or so, the market had been a scene of frequent armed robberies, adding that the situation was no different from that of mid-October last year when such incidents in the market had become a daily routine.
“For seven-eight days, armed men riding bikes or cars without a registration plate have been striking the market to rob shopkeepers with complete impunity,” Mr Zahid claimed, and said that there was also no respite from extortion as shopkeepers were continuing to receive demand slips.
He said the same situation obtained in the city`s largest scrap market in the run-up to the October 19 carnage. At least 12 people were killed and several others wounded when armed men riding motorcycles and cars resorted to indiscriminate firing into the market. Some reports also suggested that members of a certain ethnic background were targeted.
In reply to a question as to why an FIR of the Wednesday robbery was not lodged, Mr Zahid said: “People are scared, fearing for their lives; they do not go to a police station to lodge an FIR fearing dire consequences”.
Drawing attention to the unmanned police posts in the Shershah market, Mr Zahid said that as many as 17 posts were set up in and around the market following the carnage but except for three or four, the remaining posts were now without policemen.
“There is also a token presence of the Rangers personnel in the whole area as they randomly patrol the streets of the market on their motorcycles,” the association chief said.
The investigation into the Shershah carnage seems to have reached a dead end since nine of the suspects who had surrendered themselves before the police had to be released by a court for want of evidence.