KARACHI: A clash between shopkeepers of Allahwala and Lucknow Cloth Markets and personnel of law-enforcement agencies occurred on M.A. Jinnah Road when police, Rangers and customs authorities raided their warehouses and claimed to have seized ‘smuggled’ cloths early on Saturday morning.
The shopkeepers put up strong resistance against what they described as “unjust actions” and staged a protest against the raids. Some of them pelted stones on law enforcers upon which they fired tear gas shells and baton charge the protesting traders.
Police, Rangers and customs authorities jointly carried out the raids on, what the officials described as, ‘secret warehouses’, in the two markets and seized huge quantities of ‘smuggled’ cloths.
South-DIG Syed Asad Raza said that the raids were carried out against storage of smuggled clothing material within the remit of the Aram Bagh police station.
Traders’ body condemns action, says late-night raid on warehouses raises ‘suspicions’
He said that four people, including three watchmen, were arrested during the raid.
“A huge quantity of clothing material has been confiscated and taken to Customs House in nine trucks whose value is estimated to be millions of rupees,” police said.
Separately, Rangers in a statement said the raid was conducted to ‘eliminate smuggling’.
A spokesperson for the Sindh chief minister said in a statement that the raid was conducted on the markets under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner-South retired Captain Altaf Sario.
Smuggled clothes and other material worth millions of rupees ‘hidden in secret warehouses’ were recovered.
The authorities claimed the seized goods had been smuggled from Japan, the United Kingdom, Korea and China, added the statement.
Condemning the raid, All Karachi Tajir Ittehad chairman Atiq Mir told Dawn that customs authorities should carried out raids during daytime if they had any information about smuggled or illegal goods.
He said that raids during night only raised doubts about transparency of such actions.
He said that the raiding team had broken the doors of warehouses and this practice gave the impression of a dacoity and not of an official raid.
Mr Mir said it would have been more advisable for the customs to first seal such warehouses and then open it in the presence of shopkeepers.
He expressed the fear that shopkeepers/traders might offer stiff resistance and could even ‘attack’ customs authorities like the recent attack on a team of K-Electric in Timber Market, if such raids continued.
Published in Dawn, September 24rd, 2023