Small traders still wary of extortionists

Karachi: Though the law and order situation in Karachi is gradually improving due to surgical operations and raids of police and rangers; however, many small traders are still receiving threats of extortionists and just four days back a hand grenade was lobbed to a general store in Landhi after its owner failed to pay extortion, said Mehmood Hamid, president of All Pakistan Association of Small Traders and Cottage Industries (APAOSTCI) Karachi chapter.

He said extortionists are still operating at micro level in almost all areas of the city, targeting small traders and cottage industries. He said just four days back the extortionists targeted the general store of one Naseem Abbasi at Bheins Colony Landhi More when he refused to pay extortion of Rs1million. He said this was the second attack on the same shop for the same reason. He said police and rangers were contacted and requested to take action against the extortionists but in vain.

He said now the criminal gangs of Karachi have focused on small shopkeepers and traders as they are easy prey. He said the big traders and industrialists enjoy a powerful clout in political, police and bureaucratic circles and the small timer criminals dare not irk them, but they easily extort money from small shopkeepers and vendors who have no say in police, political parties and government departments.

Mehmood Hamid said the police and rangers should device a mechanism of lodging complaints of small traders and initiate targeted operations against individual extortionists and their small gangs working in different localities including suburban areas. He said the small traders are the backbone of economy and protecting them would result in overall betterment of local economy. He also urged the political parties to support the small traders and expose the elements demanding extortion from them in the name of different political groups.