Karachi: Extortionists kill 2 more traders
KARACHI: Just a day after traders observed a shutter-down strike against the murder of one of their colleagues in the Shershah scrap market, two more members of the community were gunned down in the city on Thursday. In the first incident, four armed men on two motorcycles arrived at the Japan Plaza on MA Jinnah Road and two of them went inside, while the remainder stood guard. The assailants walked in and opened fire on the owner of an auto parts shop, Sohail, while he was sitting with his brothers.
Hearing the shots, the other gunmen also opened fire to spread panic in the area and create an easy escape route for their accomplices. Some of the bullets fired inside the shop also hit two men named Asad and Aslam.
Following the bloody incident, the sub-divisional police officer and the station house officer of Preedy visited the scene. The injured were shifted to the Civil Hospital, where Sohail succumbed to his injuries.
A medico–legal officer of the facility said that the victim had been shot twice at close range. As many as 30 empty casings of 9mm bullets were recovered from the crime scene.
The incident prompted traders to block MA Jinnah Road and stage a protest against the murder of their colleagues. Later on, senior police officials arrived there and assured the traders of their security, following which they ended their protest and reopened theirs shops.
SP Saddar Division Chaudhry Asad told The News that the victim was a resident of the Lyari area. While he suspected that the trader was killed due to a personal enmity, the SP said that the police would also investigate the murder from an extortion-related angle. He suspected that members of the banned People’s Aman Committee (PAC) had a hand in the murder.
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, another trader, 45-year-old Shahid Qureshi, was shot dead at his shop by two motorcyclists on Mirza Adam Khan Road in the Kalri police limits. The gunmen fled, leaving the victim in a pool of blood. Other employees of the shop rushed the injured to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where he died.
Station House Office (SHO) Kalri Safdar Mashwani told The News that the victim was the elder brother of former MQM Sector Incharge Naeem and lived in Behar Colony.
Mashwani added that Qureshi was shot three times for refusing to pay extortion. In this case as well, the SHO suspected that members of the PAC may have been involved.
After the murders on Thursday, traders’ associations decided to take to the streets from next week in protest against the lawlessness that has seen a number of businessmen killed.
They said that the government failed to provide security for the lives of traders. They claimed that they were constantly being harassed by extortionists and other criminals.
These murders come soon after the slayings of another MA Jinnah Road trader on Thursday last week as well as a shop owner in the Shershah scrap market. According to the representatives, around six traders have been killed in the last eight days. The traders protested against the killings by blocking MA Jinnah Road and closing their markets and shops in the area. After a few hours, the road was opened and traffic resumed.
President All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders Mahmood Hamid, in his reaction to the incidents of violence, said that the writ of the government had seized to exist in the metropolis. He added that despite making tall claims, the authorities concerned failed to secure the life and property of people conducting business.
Hamid warned that the latest in a series of murders would badly disrupt business activities in the metropolis. Some other associations, including Jodia Bazaar, Khori Garden and Pak Alliance Market associations, have decided to join his organisation in their protests scheduled for next week.
The traders planned on demanding protection from the government and would hold their demonstrations within the bindings of the law, Hamid assured.
“Observing shutter-down strikes on a daily basis is not feasible as the businesses of several traders are already on the brink of disaster. We need to press for our demands by adopting another method, and that is by taking to the streets from next week,” he observed.
The trade organisation’s president said that the rising levels of inflation, constant power failures and criminal activities had driven away investors. “Who would dare make an investment with the current situation?” he asked. He added that the lack of investor confidence would increase unemployment in the city.
He pointed out that traders feared for their lives when stepping out of their homes and none of them were sure if they would return safely after a day’s work.
“I visited Shershah today and there was a curfew-like situation in the entire market. Buyers are reluctant to visit the market in these volatile times,” Hamid added. He urged the government to take action against the criminals involved in such crimes without showing any discrimination, and also said that the people apprehended should be tried by the anti–terrorism courts.
Meanwhile, Chairman All Karachi Tajir Ittehad (AKTI) Attique Mir, when contacted, said that the fresh wave of violence against traders had forced them to take to the streets, yet again.
He said that besides the strike on Wednesday, traders issued a 72-hour deadline to the government to address their concerns. However, Mir lamented that none of the authorities had approached him to resolve the security risks that traders faced on a daily basis.