Karachi: Trader shot dead for refusing to pay extortion money
KARACHI: Another trader was gunned down at his place of business on Thursday for refusing to pay extortion money. Four armed men, riding two motorcycles, arrived at the cloth shop of 40–year–old Abdul Hameed near the Memon Masjid on MA Jinnah Road. Two of them entered the shop, while the rest waited outside. The men inside started negotiating with Hameed and pressurised him to pay extortion. However, when the shop owner refused, the assailants drew their weapons and opened fire at him. Hearing the shots ring out from the shop, the gunmen outside took out their own weapons and started firing in the air as a warning to the public to stay away from the scene.
Constable Muhammad Aslam, who was posted at a private bank, also heard the gunshots and rushed to the scene. However, as soon as the gunmen saw the policeman, they turned their guns on him and shot him once in the stomach. After killing the trader and injuring the policeman, the assailants fled.
Meanwhile, the sub–divisional police officer (SDPO) and the station house officer (SHO) of the Kharadar police arrived at the scene and shifted the dead and the injured constable to the Civil Hospital.
A medico–legal officer of the facility said that the trader had been shot four times at close range, and confirmed that Constable Muhammad Aslam suffered a bullet wound to the stomach. The police found 21 empty casings of 9mm bullets from the scene of the crime.
Trouble was witnessed in the aftermath of the murder as traders poured onto MA Jinnah Road and blocked the major thoroughfare. They demanded the immediate arrest of the killers and warned that if law enforcement agencies failed to provide them with much needed protection, they would be left with no alternative, but to shut down their businesses.
In the meantime, Sindh Inspector General of Police Mushtaq Ahmed Shah took notice of the violent incident and immediately suspended SPDO Kharadar Syed Zafar and SHO Aurangzeb Khattak. Later, senior police officials went to MA Jinnah Road and tried to pacify the traders by assuring them that their concerns would be addressed. The businessmen then went back to their shops.
SP City Sarfraz Nawaz Nawaz confirmed to The News that Hameed was killed after he refused to pay extortion. The police officer suspected that the banned People’s Aman Committee had a hand in the murder.
Traders issue 72-hour ultimatum
The trading community has threatened to go on a shutter-down strike if the government fails to provide them with protection and arrest the killers of the trader gunned down on MA Jinnah Road in the next 72–hours.
The ultimatum was issued at a sit-in on MA Jinnah Road that lasted about five hours.
Also, a traders’ meeting scheduled for Thursday with Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah was postponed. The new date would be announced shortly, said an office-bearer of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI), Jameel Paracha. He suspected that the trader was not specifically targeted, but fell victim to indiscriminate fire of the gunmen in the market. “The incident was created to terrorise the traders’ community.”
He said that between 22 and 24 businessmen and traders had gone missing in the last 15 days. The AKTI officer-bearer believed that they had been kidnapped for ransom.
Paracha said that the majority of traders were confused about whether or not they should resume work on Friday (today). “They are in a state of panic and remain undecided about their future here,” he said, adding that AKTI had asked them to resume work and decide about their plans at the end of the given ultimatum.