KARACHI: A local court on Thursday dismissed bail applications filed by six traders arrested for alleged violence and reopening shops in violation of the lockdown imposed by the Sindh government in the wake of spread of coronavirus in the metropolis.
Police had booked and detained president of the All City Traders Alliance Hammad Poonawala, Mohammad Faisal Hasan Zai, Ahmed Ahsan Gujjar, Mohammad Javed, Mohammad Aqeel Shehzad and Mohammad Javed Qureshi along with some absconders for allegedly violating lockdown, inciting violence and risking public’s lives during the pandemic on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the investigating officer produced them before the judicial magistrate (South) to seek their physical remand in police custody for interrogation and investigation.
The IO said that some traders and shopkeepers forcibly tried to reopen their shops and warehouses in the city’s iron and steel market in violation of the provincial government’s ban to prevent spread of Covid-19.
He mentioned that Hammad Poonawala and other traders were “inciting” their fellow shopkeepers in the city to reopen their shops and warehouses, adding that when the police reminded them that it was a violation of the government’s ban some unknown men started chanting slogans and attacked the policemen with batons on instigation of their leaders.
Therefore, six traders, including Poonawala, Faisal Hasan Zai, Ahmed Ahsan Gujjar, M. Javed, Aqeel Shehzad and Javed Qureshi were arrested while Younus Memon, Irfan and other unidentified men fled, he added.
City commissioner, police chief ask traders not to flout the law
The IO asked the magistrate to grant police 14-day physical remand of the detained traders for completion of investigation and other legal formalities, since their fleeing accomplices were yet to be arrested.
On the other hand, the traders moved applications through their defence counsel, who opposed the IO’s request for physical remand of their clients and pleaded to grant them post-arrest bail and release them in the present case. However, the magistrate dismissed their bail pleas.
The magistrate remanded them in judicial custody for 14-days with the direction to the IO to produce them on the next date along with an investigation report.
A case was registered under Sections 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) of the Pakistan Penal Code on behalf of the state at the Napier police station.
12 more traders arrested for violating lockdown
Meanwhile, police on Thursday arrested 12 more traders and shopkeepers for violating the lockdown while the Karachi police chief and the commissioner warned traders and businessmen not to open their businesses/shops without the provincial government’s permission and create a law and order situation in the metropolis.
A senior police officer said that the shopkeepers at the Electronics Market in Saddar opened their business on Thursday.
The assistant commissioner of the area led by contingents of police raided the market.
The Preedy police arrested 12 traders and registered an FIR against them on behalf of the state through a police officer under Section 188 of the PPC.
City police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon on Thursday asked the traders to avoid creating law and order situation in the metropolis.
“Businessmen are peaceful people and they should not create law and order problem,” observed Mr Memon.
According to an official statement, the police chief suggested that the trader community should demonstrate responsibility during this difficult time by implementing the government’s orders to halt the spread of coronavirus.
He warned that if the businessmen created law and order problem, then action would be taken against them.
However, he added that the government did not want to punish the shopkeepers and traders. He added that the traders should develop coordination with representatives of the provincial government.
Crime graph goes down
The city police chief claimed that “owing to police check posts, street crime has also been reduced up to 75pc in the metropolis”.
Other heinous crimes have also been reduced up to 75pc, he said.
He admitted that the police faced “a lot of problems” arising out of the lockdown, but the same also helped control crimes.
He disclosed that 90pc violators of the lockdown measures were being allowed to go with strict warnings and only 10pc violators were being punished.
The Karachi police chief advised citizens to exercise caution and stay at home to avoid being infected with the virus.
Meanwhile, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani said that without permission of the Sindh government no one would be allowed to run business.
He warned that whoever would open their business without permission would be taken to task.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2020