Traders of the Jama Cloth Market were left wondering who to turn to for protection from extortionists after three men of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) were caught allegedly demanding ‘Bhatta’ and beaten by shopkeepers.
Witnesses said that the policemen – later identified as Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Javed and Constables Waseem and Muzaffar – arrived in a police mobile unit and were demanding extortion money. However, the traders of the market decided to take matters into their own hands and started beating the law enforcers. The traders managed to overpower two of the SIU men and handed them over to the Arambagh police.
The police, however, told a different version of events and claimed that the SIU men went to the area after a tip informed them that a trader of the market was buying stolen merchandise from criminals. The police further claimed that the team was in plain clothes and taking away an employee of the trader when they were attacked by people from the market. They added that one of the policemen was hit with the butt of an SMG after the shop keepers tried to snatch the weapons of the law enforcers.
Inspector General Sindh Mushtaq Shah suspended ASI Javed as well as two constables Waseem and Muzuffar and ordered an inquiry into the allegations against them.
SSP South Asif Ejaz Sheikh told The News that they arrested ASI Javed and Constable Muzaffar, while three of their accomplices remained at large. He also said that the police seized their official weapons and mobile vans. FIR No185/12 under sections 385&386 (extortion) were lodged at the Arambagh police station.
This incident took place just a day after Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah visited the Old City areas and assured traders that action would be taken against extortionists. He ordered the police, Rangers and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that security was provided to shopkeepers of these markets.
However, traders had already expressed their lack of confidence law enforcers and they were bound to become even more circumspect after Friday’s events in the Jamma Cloth Market.