RAWALPINDI: After the regional police officer (RPO) sought details of ‘Quetta hotels and cafés’ along with verification of their owners and employees, police and other officials have started visiting such outlets, taking copies of the national identity cards of the owners and employees.

“I am fed up with the frequent visits of the police and other people in plainclothes who claim to be from different departments,” Mohammad Ayub, who hails from Qilla Saifullah and is working at a Quetta hotel in Rawalpindi, told Dawn.

He said: “All employees of the hotel have already deposited copies of their CNICs and business licences with the police but even then they continue visiting the outlet asking different questions, collecting copies of documents and taking tea.”

Say despite submission of CNICs and other documents, police continue visiting outlets asking questions

He said due to lack of work in his native town in Balochistan, he move to Karachi and then to Islamabad before starting working in the hotel in Rawalpindi two months ago.

According to sources, RPO Mohammad Ahsan Tufail directed the police to submit reports on hotels with the name of Quetta along with the details of their owners, employees and their verifications by June 26.

Following the directives, the superintendents (SPs) of Rawal, Potohar and Saddar divisions prepared separate reports.

The matter regarding Quetta hotels and cafés was discussed at a recent meeting attended by representatives of Special Branch, Intelligence Bureau, police, commissioner and other authorities.

Sources said the Special Branch had identified more than two dozen such hotels and cafés in the city.

In Saddar division, over 17 hotels have been established and 30 people from Qilla Abdullah, Pishin and other areas were working with them.

Matiullah, who belonged to Pishin and claimed to be a partner in Quetta Hotel and Café on Adiala Road, said he had been in Rawalpindi for the last two months for his hotel business.

“I had submitted my CNIC and other business papers to the police before opening the hotel but still I am being called to the police station or they visit the hotel asking different questions,” Matiullah told Dawn.

“I am a Pakistani national. Don’t I have the right to do business in Rawalpindi?”

The verification of the Quetta hotels and cafes was conducted in Potohor division, including Westridge, Naseerabad, Morgah, Airport, Taxila, Wah Cantt and Wah Saddar.

More than 36 such hotels and cafes were found in the area with 150 workers with them.

Of the 36 hotels, 23 were operating in cantonment, Naseerabad and Airport areas. In Rawal division, 12 such hotels are operating.

Sources said the meeting was informed that employees of these hotels belonging to Qilla Saifullah, Pishin and Khuzdar had limited or no credible identification.

The participants expressed the fear that these hotels and cafés could be used by miscreants and unwanted elements for meetings and gatherings to coordinate their activities.

The intelligence officials stressed the need for continuous surveillance and scrutiny of the hotel owners and their employees in coordination with intelligence and police to avoid any unlawful activity.

The sources said the district administration had been asked to verify the legal status and hygienic condition of the hotels and cafés through the district food department.

A senior police official said there was no legal bar on any individual to do business in any part of the country.

However, the city police officer has said police were closely monitoring all such cafés and hotels. If any illegal or criminal activity came into the notice of police strict legal action would be initiated.

“But none of the owners or employees of these cafés has any links with any organisation or criminal group.”

An employee of a Quetta hotel told Dawn that they were attracting customers because of the low prices, good quality food and better services.

It has also emerged that those establishing “Quetta hotels and cafés” in busy areas of the city get shops of their choice by offering higher rents to the owners.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2019

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