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Traders go on strike for indefinite period

HYDERABAD, July 14: Traders of grains and seeds went on strike for an indefinite period and observed a complete shutter-down in the Anaj Mandi on Sunday in protest against growing incidents of robberies and police failure to nab bandits.

The call for strike was supported by all trade bodies and groups of traders.

Markets generally remain open in Hyderabad and interior of Sindh on Sundays and close on Fridays.

The protest was triggered mainly by robbery of around Rs1.6 million cash and three cheques worth Rs400,000 in Anaj Mandi on Saturday evening.

Carrying placards and chanting slogans against police, enraged traders burnt tyres and heaps of garbage on the main road as they began the protest early in the morning. They took out a procession later in the day which was led by Cooking Oil, Ghee and Sugar Merchant Union president Haji Ainuddin.

The protesters told Dawn that about 17 robberies were being committed in the market in a month in which bandits conveniently struck at the shop of their choice and deprive traders of huge cash and valuable belongings and escaped with the loot with utmost ease.

They resolved not to open shops until robbers were arrested and said that despite repeated complaints, police had not made any move to arrest a single robber and recover the looted money and valuables.

They said that they knew they would have to suffer massive losses by shutting down their businesses but they had no other recourse. Besides, whatever they had earned had already been robbed, they said.

They said that they had tired of complaining to police officers and urged the government to post honest and dutiful station house officers in the market and Sakhipir police stations to curb robberies.

They said that deals of millions of rupees were cut daily in the Anaj Mandi where traders and consumers came from all districts of interior of Sindh except Karachi and therefore the market required additional security.

They said that many traders who had been running business here since long were forced to shift to other parts of the country because of poor law and order conditions.

Riaz Shaikh, whose shop was robbed, said that at least six bandits who came on three motorcycles barged into his shop at 5:30 pm on Saturday, held his salesmen hostage at gunpoint and took away Rs1.6 million in cash and three cheques worth Rs400,000.

He said that they also snatched away pistol from the security guard posted outside the shop before escaping. He had reported the robbery to the market police but they had not so far made any arrest.

The protesters said that in another big robbery on June 15, four burglars deprived wholesaler and retailer of cooking oil Ashraf Memon of Rs1.5 million in cash.

Since then, more than a dozen robberies had taken place in the market but no arrest had been made and nothing had been recovered so far, they said.

Hyderabad SSP Saqib Ismail Memon said that police had assured traders of arresting the robbers soon. Police were investigating the robbery cases, he added.