ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: The Sabzi Mandi police arrested 15 people, including five Afghan nationals, for their alleged involvement in extortion, police said.

They said a raid was conducted at the Sabzi Mandi and its adjacent areas on Tuesday night, and the arrests were made after vendors identified the people who were collecting the extortion sum.

A police official said the 15 people detained used to collect the extortion sum from vendors at the capital’s vegetable and fruit market. They also collected the money from cart owners who had set up their businesses around the market.

The men arrested were all members of extortionist gangs, he added. The official said different groups of locals and Afghans were minting the extortion money.

In this regard, they had established separate teams which surveyed the businessmen and collected details so that an extortion amount could be fixed.
Other teams were then responsible to collect the extortion money.

According to the police official, the extortion money was taken to protect the vendors from criminals, and to allow them to continue business in and around the area.

He said gangs had occupied government land in and around the Mandi, and had ‘leased them’ out to vendors to set up their stalls and carts.

He added that merchants were asked to pay thousands of rupees as extortion keeping in view their income and business activity. On the other hand, a few hundred rupees were collected from cart owners.

A police officer said the team had raided to arrest the gangs’ leaders. However, these leaders managed to escape and only their accomplices were taken into custody.

“Investigators are interrogating the accomplices to trace the identity and whereabouts of their leaders,” he added.

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