–Section 144 imposed to ensure no products are wrapped in dailies, other papers with inscriptions to maintain sanctity of any written religious scriptures, revered names
–Health experts, religious scholars laud govt’s decision; tandoor owners, ragmen differ
LAHORE: Punjab Home Department has banned wrapping any kind of products in dailies or other papers with inscriptions, by imposing section 144 for a period of six months, Pakistan Today learnt Tuesday.
According to sources, the step has been taken while keeping in view the sanctity of certain words and religious phrases or revered names; as once used, the paper is usually thrown in garbage, which is tantamount to disrespecting the scripture.
The practice is the most common with newspapers being used by thousands of roadside vendors to serve food, dhabas selling chapattis, naan, samosay and pakoray, to name a few.
“Additional chief secretary (Home) said the action has been taken to maintain the sanctity of pieces of paper or newspapers with holy words or verses inscribed on them. The instructions have also been forwarded to the chief secretary, inspector general of police and CCPO, RPOs and DCs along with other officials concerned,” sources said.
“I know that it is something wrong but I think that all these vendors have no other option,” a buyer at a local tandoor, Omer Naeem, said while speaking to Pakistan Today.
A ragman, Aslam Iqbal, said the decision would harm his business. “My sales, which are mostly newspapers, will be affected and the cost at which I sell the papers to restaurants or roadside sellers will also go down.”
Muhammad Ishfaq, the owner of a tandoor, told this scribe that newspapers were cheaper to purchase from the ragman and that was why they preferred using it to wrap chapattis or naan.
A general physician, Dr Ahmed Fawad, on the other hand, said that people did not know the harmful effects of eating something off a printed paper. “Harmful chemicals like lead, phthalate, cadmium besides inedible colours, pigments, binders, additives, preservatives and graphite are absorbed by the food that is later consumed by people.”
“Such high lead levels in children can affect their IQ level, growth and development. All other waste is excreted out from the body, but graphite keeps accumulating and can be hazardous for lungs and kidneys in the longer run,” he said.
Punjab Food Authority (PFA) director general also endorsed the fact that the ink used on the paper has adverse effects on people’s health.
Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque, Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, said that it was a very good initiative and ragmen should also be parted education in this regard.
“Small hotels use papers that have holy names, verses and Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) sayings written over. When people throw these in waste bins, it’s equal to disrespecting those names and writings. The initiative should become a nationwide campaign,” he added.