Crippled by the bhatta mafia, M.A. Jinnah traders say no more


KARACHI – Business and commercial activities on M. A. Jinnah Road remained suspended during the first half of Thursday as traders took to the roads after one of their colleagues was shot at allegedly by extortionists over resistance to comply with their demands.
The protesting traders argued that incidents of street crime and extortion continued unabated and law enforcers had failed to provide them with any protection. “Traders of the Auto Market and Tyres Market took to the streets today after two unidentified persons opened fire at a member of our association, Saleem, when they were looting the market,” Auto Market Karachi President Muhammad Faisal told Pakistan Today.
The traders set ablaze tyres to block all vehicular traffic, while passing vehicles were pelted with stones and thrashed by sticks. Vehicular traffic was subsequently suspended for two hours, with no one allowed to pass through M.A. Jinnah Road till the demands of the traders were accepted. Gridlocks developed, however, as some vehicles adopted the I. I. Chundrigar Road and other arteries leading up to the Zaibunnisa Street.
Faisal told Pakistan Today that incidents of looting at gunpoint and demanding extortion money have increased manifold in the last few months. He claimed that traders of the auto and tyres markets approached police high-ups to provide security and also submitted written applications to the home minister, but all these pleas fell on deaf ears.
The protest and road blockade, however, managed to get the attention of the police authorities: police high-ups reached the spot, and asked traders to end their protest and initiate a dialogue.
A subsequent meeting was held between a delegation of traders from the auto and tyres markets, representatives of the Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), and City Town TPO Qamar Raza Jiskani, said Saddar Town Police Officer (TPO) Irshad Ali Sehar. The meeting chalked out a strategy to improve security in the markets, with a decision taken to deploy police jawans at all seven entry and exit point of both markets.
“A police picket will be established in the markets in the near future, and a police mobile van will patrol the market,” Sehar said.
Following the discussions, traders ended their protest and resumed business activities.