KARACHI: A man was killed while six others injured in a grenade attack, allegedly carried out by gangsters against traders for not paying extortion money, in the Cochinwala Market of the Khadara area on Thursday morning.
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s birthplace called Wazir Mansion is close to the crime scene.
The incident triggered fear and panic among traders who gathered on M.A. Jinnah Road and protested against law enforcement agencies for their failure to provide them protection.
The miscreants riding a motorbike threw the hand grenade near the small gate of the city’s biggest textile market and fled.
‘Let’s pay extortion money to criminals as law enforcement agencies can’t protect us’
As a result, seven persons sustained wounds who were transported to the Civil Hospital Karachi, where doctors declared Abdul Sattar, 68, dead on arrival.
The wounded were identified as Usman Suleman, 30; Mohammed Ismail, 38; Abdul Sattar, 50; Waqas Ismail, 30; Abdul Aziz, 55; and Usama Amin, 23.
“Condition of Abdul Sattar is critical who is shifted to the operation theatre,” said additional police surgeon Dr Qarar Ahmed Abbasi.
Soon after the incident, the markets in old city areas were closed in protest.
The traders protested on M.A. Jinnah Road at Motandas Market near Tower.
They were furious over the alleged failure of law enforcers to provide them protection against extortionists.
Some of the protesting traders, while talking to the media, said that law enforcers had recently accused them of giving protection money to criminals and had threatened to take action against those traders.
“Following this warning, we stopped giving extortion money to criminals and as a result they carried out this attack,” said angry traders.
“We know you (law enforcement agencies) cannot protect us. Please allow us to give protection money to the criminals so that our lives and properties could remain safe,” they added.
All Karachi Tajir Ittehad chairman Atiq Mir while talking to Dawn also corroborated the views of protesting traders.
He said the traders had been receiving threatening calls for the last several days for payment of extortion money.
“Recently, shopkeepers stopped giving extortion money to criminals. The businessmen were therefore being pressurised by criminals,” Mr Mir said.
“When the traders demonstrated courage, the criminals tried to teach them a lesson by throwing a hand grenade in the market.”
He, however, admitted that law enforcers were working to eliminate criminals.
“As it is difficult to prevent suicide bombing, it is also not easy to prevent miscreants from throwing a hand grenade.
“Now, it is time to strike at the hideouts of criminals,” said the traders’ leader.
Karachi-South Zone DIG Azad Khan told Dawn that the initial probe revealed that Lyari gang war elements were involved in the attack whose motive was to spread fear among the businessmen not paying extortion money.
Regarding traders’ complaints, the DIG said the law enforcers were trying to provide them protection.
He revealed that one of the ringleaders, Umer Kutchhi, was recently killed in an ‘encounter’ in Kharadar while three other gangs involved in extortion were busted.
However, the DIG admitted that one gang led by Wasiullah Lakho appeared to be still active in extracting money from the traders and concerted efforts were under way to eliminate it.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2018